Thursday, September 27, 2007

Blindness by Jose Saramago

I have been hearing for years how I simply must read Saramago. But sometimes I don't pick up much-lauded books until I end of scheduling them for my book group.

This is definitely a powerful book. It's also harrowing and prophetic. Saramago illustrates the baseness of human nature as well as its finer points. But it's a bleak draught. I hear a movie is in the works and I am pretty sure I won't want to relive the nightmare. Oh, but this New York Times article was utterly fascinating.
The Godmother by Carrie Adams

I picked up this one as an antidote to Blindness. It's a rather typical British chick-lit about Tessa King, a 30-something woman who is always a godmother and never a mother. She spend more than half the book daydreaming about having what her friends have and attending to their every crisis. There were some darker elements to it though that I didn't expect (a particularly bad miscarriage scene--a head's up for anyone sensitive to such topics). It was diverting, though, and I found myself sneaking paragraphs while my son played. I'm a bad Mama.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Alexie's first teen novel is honest, heartbreaking and hilarious--everything you would expect. In this autobiographical novel, Junior is an aspiring cartoonist who dreams big, and does what few other Indians do--he leaves the rez to make sure that his dreams become reality. Seattle artist Ellen Forney's illustrations are perfect. Destined to become a teen classic.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud

Yes, the writing is a bit overwrought and the characters are whiny (and few are likeable), but it was a compulsive read. It's the story of three 30-something friends from Brown University trying to make lives for themselves in New York before 9/11. They expect the world, and find that life doesn't quite meet up to their expectations. There are some memorable and curious characters in this book--the enigmatic political journalist, Murray Thwaite, who has an affair with one of his daughter's friends, his wife who is a compassionate public defender, and Murray's nephew, the aimless social misfit "Bootie," who fancies himself an intellectual. This reminded me of Zadie Smith's On Beauty and Julia Glass' The Whole World Over.