Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Why can't you...

Sometime early last week, I read something, somewhere about "Jigs & Reels" by Joanne Harris. I've been racking my brain over the weekend, trying to remember who/where I heard about this short story collection because I really enjoyed it.

I put it on reserve at the library, and read "Chocolat" while waiting for it to come in. I knew nothing about "Chocolat", other than the obvious: chocolate and France. It was beautifully written; everything was lushly described and I felt as if I too could smell the chocolates in the morning air, or taste her coffees in the morning. I also enjoyed the "good vs evil" aspect to this story, and how it tied in event's from both Vianne's past and Reynaud's, the village priest.

I wish she'd "ended" it more, instead of leaving it open like she did because now all I can wonder about is what the wind decided.

As for "Jigs & Reels", well, I think, out of all the incredibly well written stories, that my favorites were:

Gastronomicon, the story of a wife who only cooks for her husband from her mother in law's family cookbook. With surprising results.

Class of '81, about a class reunion of witches, one of who has lost all of her magics. And another, who didn't.

Free Spirt, the story of just that. I don't know if spirt is the right word, but it's a creepy story.

A Place in the Sun, which was just frightfully real. I mean, it's not real yet, but it's going to be. And that is just a sad, sad thought.

In the meantime...

I've been steadily working on "Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follet and man, is it ever dense. Dense as in really detailed, very well thought out, with a ton of description. (Yes, I know, that whole sentence just repeated itself, but that's how I feel about his writing. I'm enjoying it, but it's very detailed.) However, despite my best efforts, it's taking a while for this to get read and I'm worried it'll be due back before I get a chance to finish it.

I've also read "Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions" by Gloria Steimen. (I'm almost ashamed to say it's my first piece of feminist literature. Almost. Yeah, I don't know why either.) I decided to start with some of her essays, and I'm very glad I did. Most, if not all, of what she had to say, I've heard in one form or another all my life. But as a young, just turned 27 year old female, I never felt I had to think about it. Of course we are treated unfairly. Of course men get paid more. Of course we protest about this. Of course we want control of our own bodies. To me, those have always been facts, or truths. It saddens me that we still don't, too. (Jessa, of Bookslut fame, wrote an article after the death of Betty Friedan, in which she metioned several different/new feminist writers, one of which is Leslie Cannold, who wrote "The Abortion Myth", which is sitting on my coffee table (next to a stack of other books) waiting to be read.)

And finally, "The Last of the O-Forms" by James Van Pelt, which I started and finished today while at work. It was incredible. Seriously, incredible. It was like a cross between Phillip K. Dick and Ray Bradbury, two authors that I love. (Phillip, because he can scare me, and Ray, because he wrote "Fahrenheit 451", a book I adore.) Colleen, from Chasing Ray, (another Ray fan!), recently wrote a post about this book, and after reading it, I again went to my library home page and request it.

It's just excellent. It's short stories, sci-fi ones this time instead of more mystical ones like "Jigs & Reels", and it's just excellent. (You know I love something when I can't find words anymore.) I'd have to say that my favorite stories were:

The Last of the O-Forms, in which the O-Forms, or Original Forms, are all dead or dying and what's left is mutated and how one man is using it for his own benefit. The ending surprised me, because, from the hints that I was seeing, I thought Caprice was going to end up in an entirely different sort of cage. Although the "daddy" was a particularly nice touch.

Once They Were Monarchs, a story of shapeshifters surviving the modern day and age.

Friday, After the Game, in which there was apparently some sort of plauge/outbreak, so now people no longer go anywhere, instead using virtual reality pod things to "see" and "meet" people.

The Stars Underfoot, because it's creepy and scary and you know I'm not going to be walking on any frozen over lakes. (Not that I ever did.)

The Long Way Home, which was about survival after WW3. It jumps from one point in time to the next, eventually circling it's way back around to the 'beginning'.

Do Good, about a Vice-Principle who goes around leaving $10 bills taped inside of student's lockers with the words "Do Good" written on them. And ghosts.

A Flock of Birds, which is also about living after an "event". I love the way that he ties in the birds with humans, returning.

Finally, Nothing is Normal and For the Good of the Herd, which are set in the same universe and rock. I'm not going to say anything because I don't think I can without giving away the story, but seriously, so good. Especially, Catdeath. And the "file" on her. And her skin art. Loved her skin art choice(s).

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Friday, March 24, 2006

Post Script

Currently, I've just finished "The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants" by Ann Brashares, started and put down "The Garden of Eden", which was my first and last! Hemingway which is a shame because it was from my shelf of classics, and am now reading both "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett, and "Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions" by Gloria Steinmen.

Can you tell I'm trying to make up for lost time? I've also read a couple of other light fictions, entertainment books, which I'm not going to list here. Unless you wanted me too...

Happy March!

The Buffalo Soldier

Book five of the "50 book challenge" was "The Buffalo Soldier" by Chris Bohjalian, author of "Midwives".

The book starts off with the first real tragedy to hit Terry and Laura's lives; the death of their twin girls during a flood. From there the story jumps to the 'present', where Alfred is already living with Laura and Terry, having become their foster child. We experience this story through the various characters' points of views, bouncing from Laura struggling to recover from her grief and depression, wanting badly to connect with Alfred, to Terry's distance from them and his affair, to Alfred's resignation of a new "family" and his acceptance that this too would end. We also get to see these people from Paul, and elderly neighbor who Alfred accepts almost immediately, to Phoebe, the woman that Terry has an affair with.

While it starts off slow, I did get drawn into the story, going so far as to get angry with Terry when he completely misreads a situation with Alfred, who was only preparing himself for what had always happened before. Laura was also a character that took a bit of work, but you could see that she genuinely wanted Alfred to be a part of her family, with or without Terry.

I won't ruin the end for you, but I will say that I did not expect it to end the way it did. In fact, it didn't end the way I wanted it too, with Terry and Pheobe and Terry's brother, who's name totally escapes me right now, to die a firey death, but alas. It does not end that way. Honestly, I would have liked more resolution to the ending, as it feels to open for me.

And for the record, I have read "Midwives". It was a couple of years ago but I remember being unsatisfied with that book as well.

As for the online book club and it's choice for March, "Saturday" by Ian McEwan...yeah. I've got some time still, right?