Posts Tagged 'fiction'

This Might Be a Book Review

I’m reading a book. I am completely engrossed in it. When I stop reading, I am thinking about the characters, wondering what happens next. It’s not that they are DOING anything exciting. They are living their lives. If you asked me what this book is about, I think I’d be hard-pressed to make it sound like something you should read. It’s about a family of 4 children whose father dies suddenly when they, and he, are quite young, and about how they grow up and who they become.

I’m reading the book much too quickly, I know. I can see the parts where I should slow down and savor the words, but I can’t. I want to go back and be with them and know what happens. I’m hoping for a resolution. Mysteries have resolutions. Do lives have resolutions? That’s probably a question I should stop and ponder. The book has many lines that are worth pondering. I’m so impatient. I may have to go back and read parts of this again, because I’m sure there is more here than I’m getting on the first read.

I have forced myself away from the book at this point because there are things I need to do in my tangible world, and I really need to pull my attention out of my head and into something else. And that is ANOTHER reason why I know I should be slowing down. As I thought about how intensely I’m experiencing this story, I began to write this post. When I thought about how I’d describe it, I realized that it could be a story about my mother. My mother’s father died when she and he were both very young. I don’t think she ever recovered emotionally from that. I had a flash of – not insight – but more shift of perspective about my mother. Although I’ve always felt I understood what happened to her, and how it impacted her, I shifted and thought of her as a ‘story’. It changes nothing, really, except for making her childhood and her pain and the damage more intense because it distanced it from me. It wasn’t about ME anymore but about this third party, this other, and while it didn’t change a lot, I think I maybe should use this perspective sometimes to understand how death in one generation ripples on and on and on. I knew that too. I don’t think I’m doing a good job of explaining why it feels like a shift of perspective and understanding to see my mother as not my mother but as a character in a story. We react differently to constructs than we do to the flesh-and-blood parts of our lives.

the last romanticsI don’t know how close to the end I am because I’m using a new kind of book reader. I’m using something called “Bookshout”. It does have an app but you can also read the book via a web browser and that’s how I’ve been reading the book. On an app you can see the number of pages, % left in the book, and other such information. The web browser gives me the number of pages in the current chapter and that is it. Have you noticed that I have not yet NAMED this book? That’s because although I’m completely engrossed in it, I have no idea what it is called. The web browser does not display the name anywhere on the screen. *grin* So although I know I knew the name when I ordered it, I had long since forgotten it when I started writing this. *laughing* I had to go look it up on my order.

I wrote this post in what felt like a headlong rush, all in one breath. I’ve been on my reading hiatus now for several hours. I suspect that when I go back, I will again be totally bound by the words. I think I don’t even care anymore how it ends. I think that even if the ending somehow manages to disappoint me (which I do not believe will be the case), this book is still a fantastic read. I want to have it in paper form. I want to pick up this book in my hands, let it fall open anywhere and start reading it again. I want to hold it and feel it and look at the print while I think about what they are saying and feeling.

I guess what I’m saying is that I recommend this book, The Last Romantics, by Tara Conklin. 🙂

Not Quite A Book Review

a man with one of those facesOne of the bloggers that I follow often reviews books that he’s read. I love this idea, both from a reading point of view and a writing pov. That said, I don’t know that I would be an especially insightful reviewer. I am reading a book at the moment that got very good reviews. I’m not “getting it”. I think it might be satire. I have a feeling I’m very bad at satire. 🙂 If I know the topic well, I can recognize satire and enjoy it (or not, depending on the quality of the writing). If I don’t know the topic, and I’m not familiar with the author, I’m often quite lost as to how I’m ‘supposed’ to react. Many years ago a friend gave me one of Carl Hiassen‘s books, telling me that I would LOVE it because not only was it a mystery but it was funny. I don’t remember the book (it was YEARS ago) but I do remember wondering when the humor would happen. Given Hiassen’s success, I am apparently out of step with the reading public on this. I wonder if now that I’m older (much older) I’d better appreciate it.

I’m not always very good with irony, either, although that one might have definitely been because I was too young to appreciate it. I believe I might be the only living soul who didn’t love Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I have an acquaintance who has read it something like 10 times (seriously? aren’t there any other books you want to read????? the girl with all the giftswho has the TIME to read something 10 times??). Obviously this is also something that needs another attempt. I KNOW I had almost no sense of humor when I was younger. As I look at the first sentence of Pride and Prejudice now, the humor is completely clear.

There was another author I discovered many years ago and I really loved the writing, the characters and the plots. But she never allowed her recurring characters any happiness. Whenever she wrote them in a bit of joy, she made sure to destroy it in the next book. I really can’t keep reading that. I understand that no one has a perfect life. But most of us do find some sort of peace, even if not major joy. Our lives are not an unending stream of betrayals, loss, misery and guilt. Or maybe they are, but I don’t need to read it. I felt the same way about the TV series “Once Upon A Time“. I loved the premise, it started out great, and then no one ever got to be happy. Ever. That doesn’t work for me.

I read to relax and escape – I rarely read to better myself. I do a lot of things in my day-to-day living that better myself. *grin* Or so *I* think. *laughing* Feel free to disagree. Reading gives me a vacation and escape. I really enjoy mysteries, because that genre has the tradition of closure – we get to know “who did it” even if that person isn’t always brought to formal justice. 14 peter clinesI do like a good romance novel periodically because I know exactly what I’m getting and I can pretty much guarantee I’ll feel upbeat at the end of the book. Yes, it is better when it also includes good writing, believable characters and a good story, but if I can’t escape to a warm tropical beach sometimes escaping into the romance genre is a great escape. 🙂 I love historical novels too. Ask the folks who know my family about us and our dinner conversations (especially Hannibal and the elephants) and they will laugh and roll their eyes and say – oh yeah, them and history!

So what authors have I been reading in the last year or so and enjoying? Louise Penny (LOVE), Michael Connelly, Elly Griffiths, Faith Martin, Robert Galbraith (yes, I know who that is REALLY), Peter Grainger, and Charles Todd. There were 2 books I read digitally that I found so intriguing, and that I thought my son would enjoy, that I bought them in paperback for him as well: ‘The Girl With All the Gifts‘ by M.R. Carey and ‘14‘ by Peter Clines. I also enjoyed ‘Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel‘ by Robin Sloan. uprootedIt occurs to me that my brother-in-law might enjoy those 3 as well. I think they are all probably classified as science fiction or fantasy, but I don’t really think of them that way. There are aspects in all that step out of what we’d call ‘reality’, but the plots and characters are what capture my interest. I also recommend Naomi Novik’s “Uprooted” and “Spinning Silver“. Those 2 are classed as fantasy but again what makes them so interesting is not the fantasy part, but the people and relationships. I’d also recommend Caimh McDonnell‘s Bunny McGarry books. How can you NOT love a series that begins: “The first time somebody tried to kill him was an accident. The second time was deliberate.” It is a very funny series with strong characters.

As I said, this is not really a book review, but I do enjoy seeing what Donald has to say about what he is reading. I thought I’d toss out my opinions as well. Happy reading!


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