November 4th, 2008
It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and I really have no excuse but to say that I’ve been sort of busy. However, I promise to do better in the future.
I’ve been saving up these reviews for a while - some of these books are new or newish, some are not so new.
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks was just as wonderful as I hoped it would be. It shifts back and forth from a present day mystery to the history of the Sarajevo Haggadah, an ancient Jewish text. Each historical period is one when Jews were persecuted and shows both the humanity and brutality of people of all religions. It is a very moving story, and it has the added bonus of being a book about a book which is something I always love.
David Sedaris’ latest When You Are Engulfed in Flames was just as much fun as his earlier works and had me alternately laughing and crying on the same page (sometimes within the same sentence). These are short stories, many of them based around his own life, family and relationship with his longtime partner Hugh, but perhaps with some exaggeration thrown in. This book is R rated, and can be a little shocking sometimes. For an added treat, listen to the audiobook - David Sedaris narrates it himself. If you like Sedaris’ style, you might also like Candyfreak, Steve Almond’s part memoir, part history of the candy bar.
The PG-13 version of David Sedaris could be Haven Kimmel’s A Girl Named Zippy. Kimmel writes stories about her eccentric childhood in Mooreland, Indiana (near New Castle). She has the same wry humor, but she is gentler than Sedaris and less apt to shock. Her droll parents are particularly funny. In many ways, she reminds me of another Indiana author, Jean Shepherd, who is famous for the movie The Christmas Story.
Bad Dirt is the latest installment of Annie Proulx’s short stories about Wyoming and her lush prose and descriptive writing are as delightful as ever. The characters are colorful like the men in the beard growing contest, or the yuppie couple who seeks the simpler life on Wyoming’s windswept plains only to find they never fit in; and have wonderful names like Fiesta Punch, the lady rancher. Proulx is probably best known as the author of the short story that the movie Brokeback Mountain was based on (that story can be found in her first collection of Wyoming stories Close Range), but it’s her book The Shipping News that ranks as one of my all time favorites.
Entry Filed under: Book Talk