Monday, August 21, 2006

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

I thank my lucky stars all the time that I know Nancy Pearl! And she’s done it again by recommending a wonderfully diverting vampire novel! McKinley is most well known for her teen fiction, but this one is very adult, and so good! It starts out rather benignly, where we meet Rae/Sunshine who works in her step-father’s bakery in a sleepy town making cinnamon rolls as big as your head. But not far into the story you begin hearing about the Voodoo Wars and the Others—this is no ordinary, sleepy love story after all. I really loved this book—for its intelligent, grounded, and surprising main character and utterly beguiling, chillingly charming vampire.
Operating Instructions: a journal of my son’s first year by Anne Lamott

I must admit that I put off reading Lamott, even though I had heard this book is good and that she is good, because of her emphasis on Christianity in her work. I fully admit that I have a kneejerk reaction to Christian writings, and let’s be honest, Christianity in general. But I am so glad I read this book. For one, I am expecting so it was wonderful to read about another mother’s thoughts—on her terror at having a boy and her own conflicted experiences and perceptions of maleness and penises (I don’t know if I am having a boy or a girl, and I do have some concerns about having a boy, or a girl for that matter). Secondly, she wrote this book during the reign of Bush Senior and spends a lot of time railing against the evils of Republicanism—but it did break my heart to think here I am with a child being born into the 2nd Bush reign which is unarguably worse that the former. Lamott also explores her faith, and calls its craziness into question at times, in a truly refreshing way. I may not be able to handle her books which deal squarely with this topic, but I appreciated her candor and questioning in this one.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

City of Your Final Destination by Peter Cameron

Julia Glass recommended this book at her visit to the library, and I am so grateful! It was just what I was craving: well-drawn, intriguing characters, witty dialogue, and some academic satire thrown in for good measure. I hope to read more Cameron quite soon.
Howards End by E. M. Forster

My book group didn’t love this book, and while it’s flawed, there are certain passages that I just loved:

“It is so easy for an Englishman to sneer at these chance collisions of human beings. To the insular cynic and the insular moralist they offer an equal opportunity. It is so easy to talk of ‘passing emotion,’ and to forget how vivid the emotion was ere it passed. Our impulse to sneer, to forget, is at root a good one. We recognize that emotion is not enough, and that men and women are personalities capable of sustained relationships, not mere opportunities for an electrical discharge. Yet we rate this impulse too highly. We do not admit that by collisions of this trivial sort the doors of heaven may be shaken open. To Helen, at all events, her life was to bring nothing more intense than the embrace of this boy who played no part in it.” (21)

“Was Mrs. Wilcox one of those unsatisfactory people-there are many of them—who dangle intimacy and then withdraw it? They evoke our interests and affections, and keep the life of the spirit dawdling round them. Then they withdraw. When physical passion is involved, there is a definite name for such behavior—flirting—and if carried far enough it is punishable by law. But no law—not public opinion even—punishes those who coquette with friendship, though the dull ache that they inflict, the sense of misdirected effort and exhaustion, may be as intolerable.” (67)