Some of My Favorite Books

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Laura Rider's Masterpiece by Jane Hamilton

Wow, what a good book this one turned out to be. Have you had the pleasure of reading any of Jane Hamilton's books? Even though I'd never heard of this one till I picked it up off the "Recommended Books" display at the library last week, I liked this book of hers best. I think I needed the break from "all things serious" and this fit the bill.

Jane Hamilton wrote A Map of the World, a serious novel about a child drowning on someone else's property and the aftermath of those lives, and The Book of Ruth, an equally serious book about abuse and anger and regular everyday lives some people live. Maybe you've seen the movies. Laura Rider's Masterpiece is in contrast hilarious and light but with some serious consequences for the characters of its own.

I'd sum up Laura Rider's Masterpiece as "a trashy novel within a literary work of art."

I loved it.

Book Read:  Laura Rider's Masterpiece
Author:  Jane Hamilton
ISBN:  978-0-446-53895-4

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bird Cloud by Annie Proulx

I love reading Annie Proulx's novels, but this memoir, not so much. Bird Cloud. It's the name of the book and the ranch she built. First she bought some land in Wyoming. The day she first saw the land, there was a cloud in the sky shaped like a bird. The book details her travails of building her "dream house" on the land, a section south of I-80 in Wyoming. This memoir was interesting, in some places interesting like reading an instruction manual is interesting--you know you're learning something as you go but how long will you retain it or care to remember it? Some of it not that long for me.

Maybe the reason I couldn't get into Bird Cloud was because while I read her book, I was also reading/copy editing a science book, and her memoir read a lot like a science book in places. She talked about the Wyoming wind, the soil, Falling Cow (a cliff, named as a nod to Frank Lloyd Wright, where a cow met his demise), snow, blowing snow, the wind, snow drifts from the wind, being snowed in, the short, dark days of a Wyoming winter, the general pain in the ass-ness of the place at times.

And the birds. I like birds just fine, as long as they're outside (long story). But she adores them. She watches them and studies them. She takes notes about the birds' habits, their nests, what they eat, when they come and go, and it all just got to be a little much. Like I said, if my days hadn't been spent reading this science book, I probably would have cottoned to snuggling up to this book each night a little more.

If you've read any of Annie Proulx's novels, you'll know she's a talented storyteller and writer. I love The Shipping News and That Old Ace in the Hole. She also wrote the short story, Brokeback Mountain, that the movie was based on. I wonder if she just needed the cash and wrote this book to recoup some of the money from "Annie's Folly," what I read online that her house is called. Turns out the house didn't meet her expectations. It's not livable in the winter since the drive gets snowed in from the constant blowing snow. She now winters in Santa Fe and returns to Bird Cloud when the weather improves, about March each year. I think the place is for sale, if anyone has a few million sitting around and needs a summer place.

Book Read:  Bird Cloud
Author:  Annie Proulx
ISBN:  978-0-7432-8880-4

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman

I usually really like Laura Lippman's books but this one didn't really grab me till about 100 pages from the end. I'd Know You Anywhere was much more sedate and less action packed than most of her other novels, which is fine, but I wasn't expecting it so I was a bit disappointed.

I first started reading Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan books when a friend recommended her. They are girl detective/crime books and lots of fun to read. Lately, she's writing more standalone novels--some really good, some so so.

Have you ever read any of Laura Lippman's books? Do you have a favorite detective/crime writer?

Book Read:  I'd Know You Anywhere
Author:  Laura Lippman
ISBN:  978-0-06-170665-4

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Townie by Andre Dubus III

Last night I reluctantly finished Townie by Andre Dubus III. Reluctantly because this book wasn't just words on a page by a writer writing about his life. He also opened his head and heart and let thoughts come out that most of us keep hidden. He admitted wanting to beat people up. To beating people up. To having rage that he was ashamed of but that was there. It was interesting to read how he changed through the years from events and choices he made.

If you've read his most popular novel, House of Sand and Fog, you know this guy is a great writer. If you've just seen the movie, pretty much the same thing; the movie follows the book well with few surprises. Of course the book is always usually better than the movie so if you haven't read House of Sand and Fog, go. Get it at the library. Buy it. Do it. Now. Then read Townie for a peek at this superb author's life.

I love memoirs, especially those written by writers because, well, they can generally write.  I'm a wanna-be writer so maybe that's why they always intrigue me. How did this writer grow up or live or work to make him successful?

After reading Townie, I want to read Dubus's other books that I haven't read. I also want to read his father's books.

What are you reading?

Book Read:  Townie
Author:  Andre Dubus III
ISBN:  978-0-393-06466-7

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

For Love by Sue Miller

I picked  up For Love by Sue Miller at a used book sale (for a dime!) and just finished it last night. This was a good book, one of only a few of hers I've read. She's my kind of author, writing more about relationships and people than a big suspenseful something or other. Of course, I like big suspenseful books sometimes too. But, by the end of this one, I was done. I'd had enough of the lives of Lottie and Cameron and Elizabeth and Ryan and Jack and the rest.

Book Read:  For Love
Author:  Sue Miller
ISBN:  0-06-017979-1


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