Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Salon--quotable Moore

The Sunday

This time of year always challenges my time management skills. I have three children who attend three different schools. That means three "Back-To-School" nights, on three different nights, among many other things. I've been thinking a lot about blogging this week, but haven't actually done any!

And my reading has suffered, too. I had big plans to start some of the books crowding my night table, but didn't start anything new. However, I did finish Lorrie Moore's A Gate at the Stairs last night. It was a bittersweet read, and it left me a little sad. It also left me impressed with Moore's skill with language. Her writing is clever, yet still emotionally full and affecting.

I'll leave you with a few quotes:
"Thanks, maybe later?" I said with the question mark our generation believed meant politeness but which baffled our parents.

Waning light rouged and bronzed the clouds so they looked like a mountain range.

"Awesome," I said, in that peculiar way, I knew, our generation had of finding everything either "sucked" or was "awesome." We used awesome the way the British used brilliant: for anything at all. Perhaps, as with the British, it was a kind of antidepressant: inflated rhetoric to keep the sorry truth at bay.

When I went to bed at night I suffered my first bout of insomnia. This is what death would be like, I feared: not sleep but insomnia. To sleep no more, as I had learned in Pre-1700 British Drama. I had never feared insomnia before--like prison, wouldn't it just give you more time to read? I'd always been able to sleep. But now I lay there, fretful as a Bartok quartet.

Alone at dusk I was quiet; I sang nothing.
Enjoy your Sunday reading!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Salon--Something I've Been Looking Forward To

The Sunday

Last night I started reading Lorrie Moore's new novel, A Gate at the Stairs. I've been looking forward to it, and so far, I'm enjoying it immensely.

Moore is an amazing stylist, and I'm loving her wordplay, letting her adroit use of language wash over me. For me, it's like being inside the brain of a person who thinks like I do, only is much more clever than I am.

I'm trying not to gulp this one down, but to savor it. (I have to admit I have a little trouble with that, in general!)

Moore's descriptions of life as a college student are taking me back. I love the main character's wry sense of humor. So far, it's not a book I'm getting lost in, but I am enjoying the world Moore has created. I'm looking forward to spending Sunday night reading it...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Booking Through Thursday--Recent Enjoyable

Here's today's Booking Through Thursday question:

What’s the most enjoyable, most fun, most just-darn-entertaining book you’ve read recently?

(Mind you, this doesn’t necessarily mean funny, since we covered that already. Just … GOOD.)

This is one in a series of Booking Through Thursdays about your recent "most" books--today it's most enjoyable recent book.

It's an easy one, since I'm right in the middle of a page-turner that I'm having trouble putting down at night.

I'm reading Kathryn Stockett's The Help, and it's very enjoyable. When I'm not reading it, I want to get back to it. For me, that's the sign of a good book.

And it's also one of those books I knew nothing about, except that everybody was reading it. Sometimes, for me, that's the kiss of death--but this book has not been a disappointment. I'll review it soon...

What's your most enjoyable recent book?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Salon: The Help

The Sunday

Whoops, had some crazy posting issues, but now I'm ready to Sunday Salon.

I am staring at my new copy of Lorrie Moore's new novel A Gate at the Stairs, which I'm dying to dive into. But I have been restraining myself, because I have another book to read for my book group first, Kathryn Stockett's The Help.

So far I'm enjoying The Help immensely. It is a story set during the early part of the Civil Rights Movement in Jackson, Mississippi, about the black maids who raised the white children of their employers, but who weren't trusted with the family silver. Stockett's characters are nuanced and appealing, and her reproduction of the African American vernacular feels authentic without being stilted or otherwise annoying.

I'm very interested to discuss this with my book group. Whenever we read something historical like this, it's nice to try to find background material to bring to group to deepen the discussion. So I'll probably do a little research on the Civil Rights Movement, an era in this country's history that I would like to know more about anyway.

Does anyone have any suggestions for good background reading?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More Vacation Reading

As a last hurrah before school started for two-thirds of my children, we went on a mini-vacation to a "glamping" spot just north of Santa Barbara. Glamping, in case you're not familiar with the term, is short for "glamorous camping", and you can find it at outdoor resorts equipped with well-appointed tents or small cabins, and in this case a store with a great wine selection.

I hiked, read, and ate too many s'mores. I also spotted a mountain lion! I was safely in my car at the time, as I saw it lope across the road ahead of me, and disappear into the chaparral. Beautiful but dangerous when hungry! The next morning on my hike, I saw mountain lion tracks, and took a picture with my phone's camera. Needless to say, I was happy I had a hiking partner and a big stick with me.

I only brought one book with me, Joanne Harris' Five Quarters of the Orange, which I really enjoyed. It's the only book of hers that I've ever read, but I also have a copy of Gentlemen and Players on my shelf, which I am more likely to pick up now. I loved the author's descriptions of food; of the production of food on her main character's small, French farm, and of the recipes for the dishes she serves in her little restaurant. Harris really transported me to the little town on the Loire, and back in time to WWII. I was also impressed with her vivid descriptions of a woman's suffering from migraines. I get them, too, and so, I learned, does Harris.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Booking Through Thursday--Recent Big

Here's today's Booking Through Thursday question:

What’s the biggest book you’ve read recently?

(Feel free to think “big” as size, or as popularity, or in any other way you care to interpret.)

I like the freedom to interpret, here. The biggest book I've read recently in terms of popularity is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson. It was all over the blogs and everywhere else, and I really enjoyed it, but I believe there was also a lot of hype over it because the author died before the book came out.

The biggest physical book I've read recently, hmm...I have not been reading chunksters lately. But I am in the middle (okay, still somewhere near the beginning) of George Eliot's Daniel Deronda, which weighs in at a not inconsiderable 768 pages, and which I was supposed to finish over the summer. When does summer end, technically, anyway? I think I have a couple more weeks. I'd better get reading...