Sunday, May 31, 2009

Jodi Picoult

A few months ago I tried a book called "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult. That was November or December in 2008. I'm one of those people that can't read the same author back to back. Consider my love/hate relationship with Anne Rice; it's like pulling teeth to make it through one of her books. I needed at least a year or longer in between reading her Vampire Chronicles. I started them when I was 18. 8 years later and I still haven't finished the series. I've thrown the towel in and will be giving all the hardbacks I collected over the years in anticipation of finishing the series to my mother-in-law, who loves Anne Rice.

And then there's Jodi Picoult. Since December I've read "Plain Truth" and "Songs of the Humpback Whale." Today I just started "Salem Falls." When I finish one of her books, I'm eager to start another. I have enough of her books to keep me busy for a few weeks. But once those are gone, I've got nothing left. 

Some would say that Jodi's books are formulaic, and maybe they are. She writes what works best for her, what comes naturally. And I can appreciate that. I love the way her characters are flawed and complex, raw and oh so very human. 

I know she's good. Otherwise I wouldn't be planning a year before I'm ready to read another.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"The Gathering" by Anne Enright

For 40 years, the Man Booker Prize has been presented to an Irish novelist for penning the best novel of the year. The recipient is selected by book critics, other novelists/writers, and scholars. Anne Enright, a little known author of 4 previous novels, gained glowing praise and recognition for her writing when she received the 2007 Book Prize for "The Gathering." 

"The Gathering" is written in the first person from the perspective of middle-aged Veronica Hegarty, who contemplates the past, present, and future in the aftermath of her brother Liam's suicide. Veronica is assigned the task of bringing home her brother's body so the rest of her family can pay their respects. 

The novel sloppily moves from the present to the past and then back again as Veronica begins to remember past events from Liam's life that may or may not have happened, which may or may not have been the catalyst for Liam's desperate and selfish action.

Though Liam's alleged sexual abuse as a child is the reason why Veronica decides to put her thoughts to paper, he is only mentioned sparingly throughout the novel. The majority of her thoughts center around her unhappy marriage with Tom and an unreliable account of family history. 

Only 260 pages long, "The Gathering" proved to be a tedious read. The ending was very unsatisfying, leaving one to ponder what swayed the judges to honor this novel over several other appealing choices.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chasing Rainbows

How many times have you read the original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? What's that, you say? You haven't? Well, don't you think it's about time you do?

I saw the movie long before I ever read the book. And then one Christmas my parents gifted me a beautiful hardcover of The Wizard of Oz. At the time it seemed such a huge book to read. Looking at it now (unfortunately not the same beautiful hardcover; I stupidly let someone borrow it and never got it returned. I found the same edition--I think, though the cover art seems different--at King's English and brought it home with me. I have a paperback Del Rey that I'll loan out if someone wants to read it.) it is a slim volume and takes just a day or two to read. 

My dad, a teacher, often came home with oodles of Christmas treats from his students to show their appreciation for him. Among those goodies were jelly beans. While reading my beautiful new book I would eat jelly beans. The green ones particularly--every time I read the word "emerald", "green", or "Emerald city" I gleefully popped a green jelly bean in my mouth. 

I've left behind Never Land for the next Great Adventure, but I'll never forget this story that was so important in my childhood. I'm still waiting for someone who also shares my passion for this story to bring it to the big screen as it was meant to be seen: silver slippers rather than ruby slippers, the many deterrents the Wicked Witch of the West sent to stop Dorothy from reaching her domain, Dainty China Country (or was that in the third book? I can't remember!).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Billie Letts Book Giveaway

Ever since reading "Where the Heart Is," I've been a fan of Billie Letts. I'd even count "Shoot the Moon" as one of my favorite reads of the year. I'm patiently waiting to get a copy of her latest, "Made in the U.S.A.", on but came across this free giveaway. You can find out about the drawing at the following blog: