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- (9/30) Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich.
- Story of two Native American families, spanning about five
decades. A little soap-opera-y but still enjoyable. I liked "The Beet
Queen" better, though.
- (9/27) Come Back Alive by Robert Young Pelton.
- Very entertaining book about surviving the most common
horrible events world travellers encounter (bugs, bears, bees, bandits,
etc.). I'm not actually a world traveller, but you never know when you'll
be stuck in the middle of a desert with nothing to drink. I like to be
prepared for every disaster, even the highly, highly unlikely ones!
- (9/26) Wake up, I'm Fat! by Camryn Manheim.
- Manheim's memoir about growing up overweight and struggling to
get into acting, despite the Hollywood-image odds against her. Not a
terrific book, but I enjoyed reading it. Gotta love a woman who includes
a boyfriend application form in her memoir!
- (9/25) Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell.
- The first of the Kay Scarpetta series, this one about a serial
killer whose victims don't seem to have anything in common. I've already
read every book in this series, but, happily, I've forgotten most of the
early ones. She sure was a better writer back in the beginning (though a
consistently good storyteller).
- (9/24) The River Why by David James Duncan.
- Coming-of-age story (sort of) about a young man (Gus) who
heads off to Oregon's Deschutes River to search for a fish. Only, it's a
lot more complicated than that. It's also about spirituality,
environmentalism, families, philosophy, and fly-tying. The writing is
superb -- Duncan obviously enjoys playing around with words -- but the
characters are what truly make the novel. It's a cast of complete loonies
and every one of them is absolutely wonderful. Read this book!
- (9/22) The Bestseller by Olivia Goldsmith.
- Funny novel about the publishing industry. Focuses on one
publishing house, Davis & Dash, and it's talented but totally foul editor.
There are five new books coming out and one of them will be a bestseller,
but each one carries with it a history of revenge, romance, backstabbing,
or tragedy. Fortunately, all the jerks get their just desserts. I love
it when that happens. A good weekend read.
- (9/20) Lost! by Thomas Thompson.
- True story about a trimaran that capsized in a storm off the
coast of California. The three people on board, manage to cut a hole in
the bottom of the boat and access their stores of food and water, but end
up lost at sea for months before being rescued. Of course, it doesn't
help that one of them is a radical Christian who starts dumping supplies
over the side, claiming that God will save them as long as they don't
interfere with His plan by, you know, drinking fresh water and the like.
The moral of the story is: stay away from freaky religious people with
- (9/17) The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch.
- I'm not entirely sure how to describe this novel, though I
absolutely loved every word of it. It's kind of about a 60-ish man named
Charles Arrowby, who has retired from a glittering career in the London
theater and gone to live by the sea. The book is his journal -- mostly
focusing early on about his thoughts on women and how totally wonderful
he is. At first, I liked him, then I realized he was the most egotistical
and jealous person I have ever encountered -- the combination resulted,
for him, in a trail of women
totally mad about him that he used and then tossed. All but one, a woman
named "Hartley," who dumped him first when they were both young and then
became his life-long obsession. When he discovers her living in the
village with a jealous and abusive husband, he goes completely crazy and
tries to kidnap her and convince her to stay with him forever. I kept
hoping he might learn from the experience that women aren't toys and that
they don't all worship him just because HE thinks he's so great. He
doesn't, though. The book ends with him totally unchanged by all the
bizarre and tragic things that happen to him (and already on his way to
hooking up with another woman who worships him). If this book
written the way it was, and I cannot describe what made it so, I would've
tossed it aside in disgust over the main character's personality. But
instead, I couldn't put it down. Remarkable -- that's the best word to
describe it. Magical and bizarre. Read this book!
- (9/15) Cowboys are my Weakness by Pam Houston.
- Collection of short stories which are so closely related in
theme that the book actually reads more like a short novel. A short novel
about women, men, cowboys, the West, and all the messy stuff that comes
when you mix them all together. Enjoyed this a lot and will look for more
of her stuff!
- (9/14) Jewel by Bret Lott.
- Truly wonderful novel about a poor white family in 1940's
Mississippi who give birth to their 6th child and discover soon thereafter
that she has Down's Syndrome. The child quickly becomes both a burden and
the greatest of God's gifts for the family as they are forced to adapt and
shift their lives to accommodate hers. Ultimately, the child is the
force that changes them all for the better, that forces them from a life
of quiet backwoods-living to a life of exhilarating small steps towards a
greater future -- "God smiling and smiling and smiling." An Oprah
Bookclub Selection, which just goes to show you how good Oprah is at
picking out incredible novels.
- (9/12) Billy Straight by Jonathan Kellerman.
- A little departure from Kellerman's popular series featuring
psychologist Alex Delaware (a series that has never hooked me), this was a
very entertaining novel about a 12-year-old boy, a runaway, who witnesses
the brutal murder of a TV personality's wife. The chapters' narrators
flip back and forth between the boy, haunted by what he's seen, and a
female police detective on the case. I enjoyed this a lot, though it took
me several days to read it -- that was partly because I had a busy weekend
and partly because I wasn't all THAT hooked. Still, I'll recommend it to
anyone in the mood for a thriller.
- (9/7) House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday.
- I must be on some kind of Pulitzer Prize Winning roll because
here's another one. Momaday is an incredible writer and this is one of my
favorites of his (it's also the first novel he ever wrote). This one
focuses on a young Native American man named Abel who struggles with
pretty intense feelings of displacement. After a stint as a soldier in
WWII, he returns home to the reservation but doesn't feel like he belongs
there. He quickly rejects his own culture and sinks into a drunken and
bitter anger that finally explodes into a murder. Though he doesn't end
up having to go to prison, he is sent to live in the city, which doesn't
help him cope with feelings of displacement, for obvious reasons. It's a
difficult story, filled with flashbacks and Native American folklore, but
it's well worth the effort. Momaday's prose is so smooth it really ought
to clash with the content, which is so rocky and frictional, but somehow
they end up perfectly matched. In that respect, he kind of
reminds me a little
of Faulkner. Whoooooa, I better stop there before I turn this into
- (9/5) The Funnies by J. Robert Lennon.
- Very funny novel about the wildly disfunctional family of a
cartoonist who drew a Family-Circus-esque strip featuring his kids and
wife. When he dies suddenly, his children, now semi-estranged from the
family, are pleased when they get a pretty even distribution
of the wealth -- all except for Tim, who is left the strip and given three
months to learn how to draw it like his father did or get nothing.
Succeeding means selling out, but it also means inheriting a gold mine.
Very well-written and unexpectedly comic in sections. I really enjoyed
- (9/2) The Piper's Sons by Bruce Chandler Fergusson.
- Pretty mediocre thriller about a guy (Paul) who finds out he
was adopted and that his real father was a serial killer who may have
killed both his adoptive parents, his brother, and his real mother.
Pretty soon, he realizes reports of the Pied Piper's death (what the media
dubbed his real father) may have been premature and that he may actually
be coming after Paul's wife and son next. Big whoop, I said. Don't
bother with this one unless you're in the mood for mindless and cliche,
which, admittedly, I sometimes really am in the mood for. Wasn't this
week, though. Too bad for Fergusson.
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