Friday, January 05, 2007

Content, content, content

1. subject matter of a document, book, etc, 2. meaning or significance, as of an artistic work.

Well, 5 days into the new year and I've yet to start a book off either of my lists...except, that's not exactly true now, is it? I have "Crime & Punishment" listed, and since I did read another 5 pages (yes, 5 whole pages!) this morning, I guess this means I'm actually on track.

Who would have guessed?

However, as "Crime & Punishment" isn't actually either of the books that I truly think I should be reading, I plan on rectifying that this weekend. "Great Feuds in Mathematics: Ten of the Liveliest Disputes Ever" is on it's way to my local library, so I can't start that, but I do have "A Midwife's Tale" here, along with "Awakening". I also picked up several new books at the library today, including Neil Gaiman's "Fragile Things" and "The City of Falling Angels" by John Berendt, which is the book my rl bookclub selected for this month.

I wasn't able to make that meeting (we read "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan", which I liked), so when I checked my email the next day and saw the selected book I had to laugh; I had just started "Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil", by the same author.

When I first bought this book, it was at a book sale, and I'm pretty sure that it was in the "literary fiction" section, which was why it took me by surprise to find out that this novel was actually non-fiction, or mostly so. (Also, wasn't there a movie by the same name, with John Cusack? Yes, yes there was. I might have to rent that now.)

"Midnight" is an account of the death of Danny Hansford by Jim Williams, his boss, friend, and apparent lover. This isn't just a 'one-side' account of a crime though, as Berendt seems to be more telling the story of the people of Savannah (those alive, those dead, the rich, the poor, the drag Queen Chablis, even the story of Mr. William Simon Glover, who every day walks Patrick, the invisible dog), rather than just William's story. Berendt had already moved to Savannah and begun the process of settling in, having become rather enamoured with the city after recent trips, when Williams shot Hansford one night.

Having just finished the novel, I'm kinda surprised to find that I don't think I liked it, not as a story anyway. As a collection of short stories that were merged together, maybe; or maybe an interesting guide to Savannah (I didn't realize that the town was really that cut off from the rest of the state). The problem (for me) wasn't that I didn't get drawn into this book, but more that I didn't get drawn into they story that we were supposed to get drawn into; this book really does revolve around the death of Danny Hansford, and those were the parts of the novel I didn't care for.

I thought that the "side characters" were great; I got a huge kick out of the Lady Chablis (lovely drag queen who calls Berendt her chauffeur and crashes the Black Debutant Ball, although I think that s/he'd drive me crazy in person) and Joe Odom (the town con-man, but he's so damn charming and like-able that even though you know he's screwing you over, you just don't care). Those were the people I enjoyed reading about, and I'm glad that they were featured quite a bit.

Hmm, I'm pretty sure this all counts as content...

Danielle wrote a post just today about a new challenge that's making the rounds (actually, one of like a dozen I've read about this past week!), the Reading Across Borders Challenge (which is actually Kate's) and for a brief moment (very very very brief), I was tempted. I know that the majority of the books I read are written by U.S. authors, with some British and Canadian ones thrown in for good measure,(Easily. Like 98.76% US.) and that I really should be expanding those horizons at least a little bit more.

I took a quick look around at the books I have and counted over 15 different novels that have all been translated into English. It's a sign, right? Clearly, I can do this challenge...and, half of the books would be classics, so right there are my 6 books. The rest of them are all in my to be read piles, which hello, always a good thing to read through them.

So, someone tell me why I'm NOT doing this challenge? Actually, don't, I know why. Really. I think I'm actually asking you to challenge me, but please, don't. Really. No matter how many challenges I mention here, please, don't encourage me. Last year I did way too many and didn't actually meet a single one, so I've decided that this year, I'm not doing any. (Except Carl's, should he do the R.I.P. Challenge again in October. I've already picked out my books.) Still, I'm going to try and follow along with this, just to get some hint about all the great authors I'm not reading and the fantastic novels I've never heard of before.


Cathi said...

I read MitGoGaE (holy crap, it's even long as an acronym) a billion years ago and enjoyed it, although you're right, it seemed more like an overview of Savannah than a mystery whathaveyou (and if I remember right, which I'm sure I don't, isn't it never resolved?). The movie was awwwwwful (I am a huge Kevin Spacey fan, and I like John Cusack too- it was just way miscast), but it could be interesting as I think the actual Lady Chablis is in it.

I don't really know why I said all that- I think I was just excited to actually have read a book that someone is talking about. :)

Heather said...

Hi Cathi!! Hi hi hi!!


I think it was kind of solved, in that there's a section where Jim confess to the writer what "actually" happened, and he plans to tell his lawyers this, but then his lawyer comes forward with new, police mis-handling evidence so Jim keeps mum. So yeah, we know he did it, that he faked parts of the scene, but that doesn't ever "come out" to the town/trial, etc.

Hmm, so the movie was bad? Ergh. Maybe I won't see it then.

Brenda said...

Dear Hayden:

I can see that you are an active reader who enjoys discussing the books you read. I am writing to invite you to join (at no cost) an exciting community of readers:

At Dust Jacket Review, you can post reviews, favorite excerpts, and comments about the books you read, as well as join or start book clubs to interact with other passionate readers. If you join, not only will you have the opportunity to connect with other readers, you could promote your blog on your own personalized profile page.

We are eager to grow and feel that connecting with active readers and bloggers like yourself is crucial to the success of Dust Jacket Review.

Please check out the site and consider sharing some of your terrific book reviews with our community of readers.


Brenda Nicholas
Administrator, Dust Jacket Review