Happy Thursday. Here’s a flashback to 2011, when Jim Butcher released Book 13 in the Dresden Files series. I’m still loving Harry today.
I have a confession to make.
I fell down a rabbit hole of trashy romance novels, and I’m just now fighting my way out. I discovered a fantastic site called Dear Author, where a number of bloggers review romance novels of all stripes (including my beloved ‘paranormal romances’ by Patricia Briggs and Illona Andrews). I’ve fallen out of the habit of reading traditional romance novels, with the exception of my beloved Carla Kelly, and I especially have not been a fan of contemporary romances. That said, I found Dear Author because of their favorable review of Kelly’s new book, Marriage of Mercy (released June 1). I started clicking around and came across a recommendation for a contemporary romance called About Last Night, so I downloaded a sample, was hooked, and bought the book. Continue reading
Am I allowed to say bad things about a book about 9/11? Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close isn’t actually about that ‘Worst Day,’ as 12-year-old narrator Oskar refers to it. Rather, the story is simultaneously about the aftermath of 9/11 and what came before.
I adored the beginning of the book, and laughed out loud at Oskar’s internal monologue.
What about a teakettle? What if the spout opened and closed when the steam came out, so it would become a mouth, and it could whistle pretty melodies, or do Shakespeare, or just crack up with me? I could invent a teakettle that reads in Dad’s voice, so I could fall asleep, or maybe a set of kettles that sings the chorus of “Yellow Submarine,” which is a song by the Beatles, who I love, because entomology is one of my raisons d’être, which is a French expression that I know. *
Then the author began to weave in the story of Oskar’s grandmother and grandfather, survivors of the Dresden bombings, and slowly began to lose my attention. Oskar’s grandfather doesn’t speak, and so has ‘yes’ and ‘no’ tattooed on his hands.
I haven’t always been silent, I used to talk and talk and talk and talk, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, the silence overtook me like a cancer, it was one of my first meals in America, I tried to tell the waiter, “The way you just handed me that knife, that reminds me of—” but I couldn’t finish the sentence, her name wouldn’t come … **
… I went to a tattoo parlor and had YES written onto the palm of my left hand, and NO onto my right palm, what can I say, it hasn’t made life wonderful, it’s made life possible, when I rub my hands against each other in the middle of winter I am warming myself with the friction of YES and NO, when I clap my hands I am showing my appreciation through the uniting and parting of YES and NO, I signify “book” by peeling open my clapped hands, every book, for me, is the balance of YES and NO, even this one, my last one, especially this one. ***
Oskar’s grandmother has ‘crummy eyes’. Maybe she’s going blind? Maybe not. I don’t like meandering, stream of consciousness writing. It’s enough that I have to deal with it inside my own head.
Parts of the story are deeply affecting, particularly Oskar’s memories of and love for his father. I love that the author includes pictures – photos of the 9/11 falling man are heart stopping.
I can’t seem to focus my response to this book. It wasn’t the 9/11 story I was dreading. It was simultaneously less and more than I expected. Other reviews call it ‘quirky,’ which isn’t an unfair description, but it’s never quirky in a precious way. Go read it.
* Foer, Jonathan Safran. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel (Kindle Locations 90-93). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
** Kindle Locations 323-325
*** Kindle Locations 338-342
Smoke and Mirrors – a short story collection by Neil Gaiman I very much enjoyed this book of short stories. I’ve wanted to try some of Gaiman’s work for a while now, and found this collection while waiting for Coraline to become available at the Library. Gaiman is spooky, funny, morbid, and eclectic. More than one story was inspired by/infused with H.P. Lovecraft themes, which are guaranteed to creep me out. Continue reading
I’m doing this new thing where I try not to spend money on books. I looked at the size of my Kindle library, did a little math in my head, and almost fainted. Since I have lots of options for free/low-cost books, there’s no reason to squander money buying them, especially if I’m never going to read the book again. (That’s the drawback of the Kindle e-book: you can’t sell it/give it away when you’re done with it.)
I the past two weeks I have listened to two thrillers by author Daniel Hecht. Hecht is a great writer – his writing has a poetic, lyrical quality. Continue reading
The true story of the gruesome murder of masseuse William Guldensuppe, in 1890s New York City, The Murder of the Century tracks both the murder investigation and the surrounding media circus that presaged today’s tabloid culture. I don’t usually read true-crime novels, although I very much enjoy programs like 48 Hours Mystery. (Spoiler – it was the victim’s husband/wife/lover!!)