Roth, Philip. Novels and Other Narratives 1986 – 1991. Patrimony: A True Story. New York: Library of America, 2008.
I will admit this was hard to read. For starters it is about the relationship Roth had with his father and the illness that finally took that relationship away. Any story about a father tugs at my heart strings because mine is no longer with me. Secondly, Roth’s father died of a brain tumor. My aunt had a brain tumor and while it isn’t the same kind her life has been changed forever because of it. I grieve for the person she used to be.
Philip Roth delivers a touching tribute to his father. With eloquence, humor and the utmost respect he shares his father’s illness leading up to his final days. Herman Roth wakes up one morning to a strange paralysis, drooping eyelid, slack cheek and slurred speech, on one side of his face. Thinking he has had a stroke Philip takes his father to see a doctor. The news is worse. Herman has a brain tumor at the base of his skull that has been growing for ten years. What follows is a journey of father and son, navigating medical treatments and traversing the rough road of relationships. The result is a touching memoir of discovery for both father and son. If you have never read anything by Roth, read this.
Line that stopped me dead, “You clean up your father’s shit because it has to be cleaned up, but in the aftermath of cleaning it up, everything that’s there to feel is felt as it never was before” (p689). Wow.
Reason read: Father’s Day is June 16th this year. I am reading Patrimony in honor of the father I lost on September 21, 1992.
Author fact: An interesting website for Roth is here.
Book trivia: In 1992 Roth received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Patrimony: a True Story.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Me, Me, Me: Autobiographies and Memoirs” (p 163).
Willis, Connie. Impossible Things. New York: Bantam Books, 1994.
“Ado” is a super short story about an English teacher trying to get her class to study Shakespeare. The problem is this, every play is contested by some watchdog group. Mortician International takes offense to the word, “casket” in Act III, Students Against Suicide protest Ophelia’s drowning, and so on. Even the students are allowed to refuse to learn a subject. Willis prefaced the story with an explanation, “political correctness is getting out of hand” (p 115).
“At the Rialto” had me laughing from the very first pages. Dr. Ruth Baringer is a quantum physicist attending a chaos conference in Hollywood, California. Only she can’t even check into her room because her name isn’t in the registry. In fact, nothing is where it’s supposed to be. Rooms where lectures are supposed to be occurring either have talks on channeling or stand empty. To make matters worse there is a colleague who is hell bent on trying to distract Dr. Baringer from attending a single lecture even if it is the wrong one. The chaos is just trying to attend the conference on chaos.
Reason read: June is National Short Story month.
Author fact: Oddly enough I couldn’t find an award for Impossible Things which seems entirely impossible because Willis has won awards for nearly everything else she has written.
Book trivia: Impossible Things is made up of eleven stories of which I only read two.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Connie Willis: Too Good To Miss” (p 247).
Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. New York: Random House Audio, 2008.
Let’s start with the bad news. I listened to this on audio while driving to and from work. Not a good idea. When the cd would finish and start again at track one I wouldn’t notice for a few moments. I wouldn’t notice for two reasons. One, there was nothing in the way of a fictional plot to make me say, “hey, I’ve heard this before” and two, the book was so repetitious I wasn’t sure if the cd was starting over again or if Kabat-Zinn was just repeating himself again. The other reason why I shouldn’t have listened to this on cd is the fact I wasn’t paying full attention to his words. Pretty ironic since that’s what his whole premise is about, being mindful of everything you do. I couldn’t be 100% mindful of what I was listening to without giving some attention to the automobile I was operating. The good news is this – I learned something. I took away huge chunks of Kabat-Zinn’s lessons. There are two parts that really resonated with me: seeing your mind as an ocean. On the surface the waves are choppy, chaotic and stressful. But, if you drill down to your very essence you will find a calmness, a serenity that should be tapped into each and everyday. Kabat-Zinn’s parallel example is the ways in which we used to live by nature’s rhythm. Before electricity we rose with the sun and worked for as long as there was natural light. We slept when it was dark. Modern conveniences have pushed us out of those rhythms, allowing us to keep working long past dark. The second ah-ha moment was the connection to food. I never thought about the what, where, when, why, how, and with whom aspect of eating. The psychological attachments to what we eat, when we eat, why we eat, how we eat and with whom we eat is profound and I never thought about it that way before. It changes my relationship with food. All in all, despite the repetitive nature of the book I enjoyed Full Catastrophe Living. Next time I will read the book!
Reason Read: Jon Kabat-Zinn was born in June.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Help Yourself” (p 110).
Chaon, Dan. Among the Missing. New York: Ballantine Books, 2001.
Two short stories from Among the Missing:
“Big Me” is the creepy tale about a boy who thinks he sees his adult self in a substitute teacher at his school. Andy fantasizes about being a detective and spends his spare time torturing confessions out of cats and breaking into people’s homes. When he snoops around the home of his teacher he discovers a photograph of a boy who looks a lot like him. Soon Andy is keeping a journal of his adult self’s life as if it were his own.
Best quote, “Sometimes I think: if no one knows you, then you are no one” (p 52).
“Something to Remember Me By” is the even creepier tale about a man whose best friend had disappeared when they were fourteen. Even though it’s fifteen years later Tom still feels the guilt. The missing boy’s parents have inserted themselves into Tom’s life as if to keep the memory of their own son alive. Seeing them makes Tom feel guilty. What drives Tom’s guilt is the fact he knows more about his friend’s disappearance than he’s letting on. And, to add to the guilt he knows he can never tell.
Reason read: June is national short story month. Hence, a whole bunch of short stories.
Book trivia: Among the Missing is a National Book Award finalist.
Author fact: Dan Chaon has a website and the main page is his blog which appears to be links to reviews. So, not really his blog…theoretically. You can check it out here, if you want.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Short Stories” (p 220).
Lewis, Roy Harley. Death in Verona. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989.
Matthew Coll is looking for the real Romeo and Juliet. He has gone to Verona for a little holiday and to research the Capulets and Montagues to find out if these families did indeed exist. Matthew has reason to believe Shakespeare repeated a familiar story already told a few times and that a journal hand written by Sen. Capulet is out there somewhere. Unfortunately for Matthew, when he arrives in Verona his holiday isn’t what he expected when he finds himself squarely in the center of a murder and he’s accused of being the murderer.
Great line: “They stared at me blankly; crooks who obviously never contemplated legitimate means of making money” (p 107).
Reason read: The Arena di Verona festival is in June.
Book trivia: Death in Verona is the fifth book in the series featuring Matthew Coll, bookseller/detective.
Author fact: Roy Harley Lewis is a bookseller specializing in rare books just like Matthew Coll…hmmm… wonder if he is a closet detective as well?
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter simply called “Verona” (p 244).
Michaels, Lisa. Grand Ambition. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2001.
The year is 1928. America is spellbound by adventurous feats like the one of Charles Lindbergh’s first transatlantic flight. Amelia Earhart is in the news with her own daring flight. It’s only natural that a man by the name of Glen Hyde, interested in running whitewater, would want to set some records of his own.
Grand Ambition starts with the first person narrative of Reith Hyde, father of Glen Hyde. Reith sets the ominous tone and the sense of foreboding. Keeping track of his son and new wife’s progress down the rapids of the Colorado River he knows they are late reaching their next point. Surely, something is wrong…
Glen, 30 and Bessie Hyde, 23 are a true life ambitious and adventurous newlywed couple who dared to go down the rapids of the Grand Canyon in a homemade boat in late 1928. Glen, an experienced boater, wanted to be the fastest man to complete the journey. Bessie was romanced by the idea of being the first woman to do the same even though she was a novice. They were almost at the end when something went horribly wrong and they were never heard from again. Lisa Michaels takes to task telling their heroic story, imagining what they went though and their ultimate demise. Interspersed between the adventure is the personal history of Bessie and how she came to meet Glen, fall in love with him and find herself boating down the rapids of the Colorado River. On the other side of the story is the search for Glen and Bessie. Glen’s desperate father, Reith, will stop at nothing to find his son.
As I was reading this I couldn’t help but think of my friend and the book he wrote about his own adventure down in the Grand Canyon. I wondered if he saw the same rock formations, the same rapids untouched by time.
Lines to remember, “…she had been a brief accident of his early twenties made into holy law…” (p 21), “Death didn’t miss you because you stood still” (p 44), and “Love is another country” (p 195).
Reason read: June is adventure month. Knowing this always makes me feel like I should be living an adventure, not reading about one.
Author fact: Grand Ambition is Michael’s debut novel.
Book trivia: I could see this being a really cool movie, but it’s not.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Adventure By The Book: Fiction” (p 7). Also from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “AZ You Like It” (p 31). As an aside, Grand Ambition is indexed as just Ambition in Book Lust To Go.
Boyd, Martin. When Blackbirds Sing, a Novel. London: Abelard-Schman, 1962.
When Blackbirds Sing is the last installment in the Langton quartet. We rejoin Dominic as he journeys back to war, re-enlisting at the start of World War I. Leaving his wife in Australia to tend to their sheep farm he heads back to England and reconnects with an old flame, Sylvia.
After killing a man and witnessing the atrocities of war Dominic has sobered of all immoral actions and indiscretions. He returns home to Australia a changed man inside and out.
I can honestly say I enjoyed this book much more than the last three (none of which I completely finished). Still, everything about Boyd’s quartet was old and stuffy. The series is supposed to depict the early 1900s but the writing seems older and more staid than that.
Reason read: to finish the series started in April – April being the best time to visit Australia.
Author fact: Boyd was better known for his book Lucinda Brayford.
Book trivia: The jacket cover for When Blackbirds Sing is hideous.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “Australian Fiction” (p 29).
Braun, Lilian Jackson. The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern. Read by George Guidall. New York: Recorded Books, LLC, 1990.
Jim Qwilleran is a reporter for “The Daily Fluxon.” He has led a simple life until he is asked to write for “Gracious Abodes,” a magazine specializing in interior decorating of lavish homes. Qwilleran is paired with David Lyke, an interior designer who leads him to all the fashionable homes he has put on his designer touch. Oddly enough after each cover story is published something terrible happens at the featured home. First, there is the home of George Tait. His expensive jade collection is stolen and his wife dies of an apparent heart attack. Then, house number two is raided for being a brothel after it is featured on the cover of “Gracious Abodes.” At the third residence there is a murder…Qwilleran keenly watches the behavior of his Siamese Cat, Koko, to figure out the mystery.
“Reason read: June is National Cat Month…or something like it.
Book Trivia: Get the audio version and listen to George Guidall read the character of David Lyke. It’s hysterical.
Author fact: Braun passed away two years ago which is a shame because I really think I would have gotten along with her. Her descriptions of cat behavior are spot on!
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Cat Crazy ” (p 52). Incidentally, Pearl says this particular “Cat” book is her favorite.
Barrett, Andrea. Servants of the Map. New York: W.W. Norton, 2002.
“Servants of the Map”
Max Vigne is an English Civil Junior Sub-Assistant surveyor in the Himalayas away from his wife and young family. As a member of the surveying party, through letters he describes his daily existence, leaving out the hardships and cruelties (like finding the body of a man who apparently died of the elements). Through those same letters the reader is exposed to Max’s inability to synthesize with this surroundings. Being from England he is embarrassed by his lily-white skin while everyone else on the team is dark and tanned. The differences go deeper than skin and culture. Max is drawn to the natural world, wanting to explore it more than reconnect with his marriage and life back home.
It is December 1905 in the Adirondacks. Elizabeth and Andrew run a private home for health-seekers. They have nine boarders at the moment and one, Mr. Martin Sawyer, is dying. Elizabeth thinks her husband hides whenever someone is sick but really he is channeling the healing powers of Nora Kynd. Andrew believes in the healing qualities of magnets. They “shift the shape of the aura surrounding each person into a new and more healthful alignment” (p 203). On Nora’s birthday he honors her spirit by placing magnets in the chimney, hoping it will help Mr. Sawyer.
There are a lot of other characters to keep track of. Here are just a few:
- Livvie and Rosellen – they help Elizabeth run the house
- Mrs Temple – the nurse who left three days earlier
- Dorrie and Emeline – they also run private homes for health-seekers
- Bessie Brennan – Dorrie’s mother. She was the first to rent a room to a sick stranger
- Mr. Woodruff – a Baltimore banker who roomed with Bessie
- Olive – Bessie’s cousin
- Aaron Brown – a boarder who died
- Mr. Davis – another boarder
- Mr. Cameron – an astronomy teacher from Connecticut, also a boarder
- Nora Kynd – she taught Elizabeth, Dorrie and Emeline their trade. She came from Detroit, Michigan and has passed away.
Barrett takes the time to jump back to Nora Kynd’s story – how she fled to America from Ireland; how she was separated from her only living relatives, her two younger brothers; how she befriended a healer by the name of Fanny McCloud who taught her everything she knew; how she came to the Adirondacks. Like “Servants of the Map” this story focuses on science, this time trying to cure people of consumption or tuberculosis.
Line I liked, “Trying to stay in touch without touch; how that effort changes us” (p 29).
Reason read: June is short story month and so the short stories continue.
Author fact: Barrett was born in Boston.
Book trivia: Servants of the Map was nominated for a Pulitzer. Very cool.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Good Things Come in Small Packages” (p 102).
Because I am walking 60 miles between 5/31 and 6/2 I thought I would post this a little early.
I’m halfway through the “year” of reading so I thought I would map out the rest of the books. In doing so I found that I missed another book, one I should have read back in April. Now there are two books that will have to wait until next year for me to read them. Bummer. Anyway, here are the books still to go (July – November):
- Abide By Me by Elizabeth Strout – August
- Apollo: the epic journey to the moon by David West Reynolds – July
- At Home in the Heart of Appalachia by John O’Brien – September
- Beyond the Bogota by Gary Leech – August
- Burma Chronicles by Guy Delise – Sepember
- Burning the Days by James Salter – August
- Child that Books Built by Francis Spufford – September
- Conspiracy and Other Stories by Jaan Kross – August
- Deafening by Frances Itani – October
- Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby – August
- Fixer by Joe Sacco – July
- Going Wild by Robert Winkler – October
- Guardians by Geoffrey Kabaservice – November
- Light Infantry Ball by Hamilton Basso – September
- Nobody Knows My Name by James Baldwin – August
- Ocean of Words by Ha Jin – October
- Old Friends by Tracy Kidder – September
- Panther Soup by John Grimlette – November
- Return of the Dancing Master by Henning Mankell – July
- Scramble for Africa by Thomas Pakenham – July
- Southpaw by Mark Harris – October
- Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini – July
- Time, Love, Memory by Jonathan Weiner – November
- What you Owe Me by Bebe Moore Campbell – November
- Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken – September
- Working Poor by David Shipler -July
ON DECK FOR JUNE (the list is especially long because it’s short story month):
- Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lillian Jackson Braun (audio)
- Death in Verona by Roy Harley Lewis
- Golden Spruce by John Vaillant
- Grand Ambition by Lisa Michaels
- Points Unknown edited by David Roberts
- ADDED: When Blackbirds Sing by Martin Boyd
- “Here’s a Little Something” and “Big Me” by Dan Chaon (From Among the Missing)
- “Servants of the Map” and “The Cure” by Andrea Barrett (from Servants of the Map)
- “In the Land of Men” and “Goodbye Midwest” by Antonya Nelson (from In the Land of Men)
- ADDED, because Cat Who Ate Danish Modern is so short): Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn (audio)
- Adventures of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol
- Ancient Athens on 5 Drachmas a Day by Philip Matyszak
- Apples Are From Kazakhstan by Christopher Robbins
- Arctic Grail by Pierre Berton (I started this last year. No, sorry – two years ago)
- Ariel by Sylvia Plath
- Author, Author by David Lodge (audio)
- Beautiful Swimmers by William Warner
- Before the Knife by Carolyn Slaughter
- Bellwether by Connie Willis
- Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengist (audio)
- Big Mouth and Ugly Girl by Joyce Carol Oates
- Billy by Albert French
- Brass Go-Between by Oliver Bleeck
- Breakfast with Scot by Michael Drowning
- Brush with Death by Elizabeth Duncan
- Brushed by Feathers by Frances Wood
- Camus, a Romance by Elizabeth Hawes
- Cardboard Crown by Martin Boyd
- Churchill, a life by Martin Gilbert
- City of Thieves by David Benioff
- Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
- Descending the Dragon by Jon Bowermaster
- Diamond Classics by Mike Shannon
- ADDED: Difficult Young Man by Martin Boyd
- Dining with Al-Qaeda by Hugh Pope
- Domestic Manners of the Americans by Fanny Trollope
- The Evolution of Jane by Catherine Schine
- Edward Lear in Albania by Edward Lear
- Fanny by Edmund White
- Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
- Final Solution by Michael Chabon
- Flamboya Tree by Clara Olink Kelly
- Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco
- Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez by Gerald Martin
- Galton Case by Ross MacDonald
- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos
- Girl in Landscape by Jonathan Lethem
- ADDED (in lieu of House of Morgan): God: a biography by Jack Miles
- Gold Coast Madam by Rose Laws
- ADDED: Good City edited by Emily Hiestand
- Good Thief’s Guide to Paris by Chris Ewan
- Good Thief’s Guide to Vegas by Chris Ewan
- Good-bye Chunk Rice by Craig Thompson
- Her by Christa Parravani
- Hole in the Earth by Robert Bausch
- Hole in the World by Richard Rhodes
- House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferre
- ADDED: Iliad by Homer
- Idle Days in Patagonia by William Hudson
- ADDED: Imperfect Harmony by Stacy Horn (for LibraryThing’s Early Review program
- Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer
- Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith
- Lives of the Painters, vol 2, 3 & 4 by Giorgio Vasari
- ADDED: The long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz
- ADDED: Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou for the Early Review Program
- Mortality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith
- Of Human Bondage by William Maugham
- No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
- ADDED: Outbreak of Love by Martin Boyd
- ADDED: Path Between the Seas by David McCullough (audio)
- Playing for Keeps by David Halberstam
- Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson
- Rosalind Franklin: Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox
- Scar Tissue by Michael Ignatieff
- Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
- Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers
- ADDED: Suzy’s Case by Andy Siegel (as recommended)
- Tatiana by Dorothy Jones
- Tattered Cloak by Nina Berberova
- Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith
- Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
- ADDED: This is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakawila for LibraryThing
- Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy Sayers
- Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery
- Viceroy of Ouidah by Bruce Chatwin
- Wholeness of a Broken Heart by Katie Singer
- Widow for One Year by John Irving
- Women of the Raj by Margaret MacMillan
- “Golden Angel Pancake House” by Campbell McGrath
- “Lepanto” by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
- “Listeners” by Walter De La Mare
- “Mandalay” by Rudard Kipling
- “Road and the End” by Carl Sandburg
- “Sea-Fever” by John Masefield
- “Winter” by Marie Ponsot
- “In My Craft or Sullen Art” by Dylan Thomas
- The Long Hill” by Sarah Teasdale
- “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
NEXT YEAR (so sad):
- House of Morgan by Ron Chernow (as previously mentioned)
- Rose Cafe by John Hanson Mitchell
McCullough, David. The Path Between the Seas: the Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914. Read by Edward Herrmann. New York: Simon & Schuster Audio, 2003.
One might think that the historical retelling of the construction of the Panama Canal would be as dry and boring as five day old stale bread but David McCullough makes the process from start to finish fascinating. Being one of the seven man-made wonders of the world, the Panama Canal is an example of ingenuity, technology and sheer grit at its best. What is not as well known is all the controversy that surrounded the who, what, where, when of the project (everyone knew the why – sailing around Cape Horn was not only time consuming but it was also extremely dangerous. McCullough maps out every step of the process from the vision birthed in 1870 to the triumph of the first successful trial lockage of September 1913. From the French preliminarily attempts to the eventual success of the United States, every trial and tribulation is accounted for. The book version has wonderful photography while the audio version is entertaining for long car rides.
Reason read: Even though the French started construction much earlier I chose to focus on America’s involvement with the Panama Canal. U.S. construction on the Panama Canal started in May. On my dad’s birthday, as a matter of fact. Full disclosure – I hadn’t planned on it, it I listened to the abridged version of Path Between the Seas. Bummer.
Book trivia: Path Between the Seas won a National Book Award.
Author fact: David McCullough is better known for his biography of John Adams (it won a Pulitzer).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Presidential Biographies” (p 192). I know you are scratching your head because this book doesn’t really have anything to do with a biography of a president. This is, in fact, one of the those, “I don’t really need to read this book” books because it’s mentioned as an aside. Pearl is talking about David McCullough’s biography of John Adams but adds he is the author of Path Between the Seas. I should have started a category called “unrelated to the chapter” and kept track of how many books Pearl throws into the mix; books that have nothing to do with the topic she is covering. I have a feeling all three Lust books would be a lot shorter.
Kahakauwila, Kristiana. This is Paradise: Stories. London: Hogarth, 2013.
There are only six stories in This is Paradise. The good news is that I wanted more. Kahakauwila does a great job pulling the Hawaiian culture to the surface of her character’s everyday life. We all have family issues, we all have dramas in our lives but on the islands of Hawaii all this commonality gets a twist. Life moves a little differently in paradise and the lesson to be learned, if I can be didactic for a minute, is that paradise can be painful.
Kahakuawila’s first story starts out disjointed and a little confusing. A lot happens in the title story. Told from the first person perspective it is all over the place. First we are surfers, then chambermaids, next successful career women, and then back to surfers at a bar and on the ocean. The first story This is Paradise reveals an attitude, a prejudice and demolishes a stereotype. It is the only story without a tightly wound plot other than to point out the perceptions of tourism. There is a real sense of “us against them” attitude. Having said all that, as a result the first person stories feel more connected to the Hawaiian culture.
However, “Wanle” is my favorite. In it Wanle is bound by blood to honor her cockfighting father. The need for revenge is as strong as her sense of family and even her sense of self. The conflict is her boyfriend, the “Indian.” He doesn’t like her fighting roosters. He doesn’t like the violence, doesn’t understand the need for revenge. Wanle must go behind his back to continue her obsession and the consequences are devastating.
Ferre, Rosario. The House on the Lagoon. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1995.
The House on the Lagoon is a clever story within a story. At the center it tells the tale of Quintin and Isabel Mendizabal. Isabel is trying to become a writer. The House on the Lagoon is her latest project. Multigenerational and historical it sounds a little too much like Quintin and Isabel’s own ancestors and personal history. Quintin, being a historian, finds Isabel’s manuscript and he simply cannot leave it as fiction. He has to edit the historical details and set the record straight. The more he edits the more he realizes the truth about his own marriage. Her unhappiness and his sense of betrayal create a powerful cauldron of simmering disaster.
Ferre’s writing is grand. She writes about a time when grand patriarchs presented their heirs with gifts such as steamships weighing eight thousand tons each. A time when segregation had an unsettling effect on Puerto Ricans. Not used to inequality they worried about the color of their skin not being as pure lily white as their northern neighbors.
Quotes I loved, “If you wanted to know who someone’s relatives were, you only had to visit your grandmother slumbering in her rocking chair, wake her up, and ask her to whisper you her secrets” (p 22), and “A sovereign with shoulders spread like infantry battalions, strong cavalry thighs, and eyes so blue they made you want to sail out to sea” (p 27). Wow. Can you hear me licking my lips right now? Last one – “It wasn’t an easy victory; she had to fight for her bed as if it were a castle under siege” (p 83). Poor woman!
Reason read: In honor of Cinco de Mayo, a little Latin American fiction.
Author trivia: According to Amazon, Ferre was First Lady of Puerto Rico (1970 – 1972) while her father was governor after her mother passed away in 1970.
Book fact: This has nothing to do with House on the Lagoon per se, but my copy was underlined, notated and dog-eared. Someone definitely loved this book more than they should!
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Latin American Fiction” (p 144).
Pope, Hugh. Dining With Al-Queda: Three Decades Exploring The Many Worlds of the Middle East. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2010.
Thirty years is a long time and while I don’t think Hugh Pope spent all of tho0se thirty years researching his book, Dining with Al Qaeda, I think the thirty years gave him plenty of time for him to collect the juicer antidotes. Pope covers everything from culture to society to politics and of course, war. Even though Pope’s experience begins in 1980 there isn’t a logical layout to the format of the book and chronological order is almost nonexistent, making the text feel disjointed and, in some places, messy. However, despite being a seasoned journalist with the Wall street Journal, Pope takes on a tone of conversation and casual – something he admittedly was striving for. To further lighten the mood Pope included revealing photographs (all taken by him).
Reason read: Osama Bin Laden was assassinated on May 2, 2011.
Book trivia: The title, Dining with Al-Qaeda is a hook to draw the reader in. There is much more to the text than chowing with a terrorist.
Author fact: Pope wrote a book called Turkey Revealed that made the New York Times “notable” list.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “A Mention of the Middle East” (p 143).
Boyd, Martin. Outbreak of Love. New York: Penguin Books, 1984.
Throughout earlier Boyd books (Cardboard Crown, etc) we have been following the Langton family. In Outbreak of Love we focus on Diana. She has been married for twenty-three long years to egotistical and stuffy musician named “Wolfie.” Wolfie is an adulterer and it’s this unfaithful behavior that brings the drama to the book. Diana, of course, finds out and decides she needs an interesting relationship of her own. Of course there is the requisite high society blah, blah, blah such as who is going to invited to so and so’s ball and have to sit next to the bore.
Quotes that caught me, “Will we have a little love first, or will we go straight out to tea?” Wolfie’s mistress asks. Here’s another, “It shook my egoism, but I was not prepared to abandon reason” (p 53).
Oddly enough, I read this one better than the last two Boyd books. I don’t really know what I meant by that except to say my attention didn’t wander as much.
Reason read: to continue the series started in honor of the best time to go to Australia (March/April).
Author fact: Boyd was born in Switzerland.
Book trivia: This is the third book in the four-book series called The Langton Quartet.
BookLust Twist: Book Lust in the chapter called “Australian Fiction” (p 29). Here’s a laugh – Pearl lists all four books in the quartet but she mixes up the order in which they should be read. She lists When Blackbirds Sing before Outbreak of Love. According to the back cover of Outbreak of Love, When Blackbirds Sing is the last book of the quartet.