Monday, February 21, 2011

Curling up with lots of good books

Silver lining of being too sick to move: lots of books read. My pile to return to the library is almost as large as my to-be-read pile. Okay, I exaggerate - it's about half the size. But still!

The Westing GameWhen the 11 year old was off with the flu for a week, I encouraged him to read Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game, but he was too grumpy to get into it. I'd picked it up on a recommendation on a blog about Newbery winners at NPR's Monkey See (which you should really go poke around on if you never have.) And I have to disagree with my son / agree with a total stranger - this is a clever and enchanting book. I enjoyed the puzzle and the mystery but even more the way the characters all grew and changed thanks to the pairings in the will. (My older child saw me with it and raved, so I'm not raising total heathens, by the way.)

Getting to HappyAlso on NPR, I believe, I heard a story about Terry McMillan's Getting to Happy, her follow-up to Waiting to Exhale. Waiting to Exhale is one of those novels I sort of assumed I'd read already, back when it was new, but as it turns out, I hadn't. So I finished both of them this past week. Exhale is almost ferociously caught in its time - I had serious early 90s flashbacks reading it - and it can get pretty polemical, but the women it centers on are, in the end, great friends. Moving immediately on to Happy and seeing what McMillan had thrown in their ways during the intervening 16 years was interesting. Each friend was true to her earlier foundations and deeper thanks to her experiences since then. Curiously, Savannah and Bertie were my favorites in the first novel, but Robin and, especially, Gloria really stole the show in the sequel.

Bound: A Novel
I can't tell you why I picked up Bound, by Antonya Nelson, but I'm glad I did. It's deceptive, and I like that in a novel. Here's what I mean - a woman dies when her car flies off a mountain pass in Colorado, leaving her daughter in the custody of her best friend from high school. The daughter and the friend undertake separate but not dissimilar journeys to find each other, and to adjust to this new reality. That's it, but woven within that simple structure are so many threads from the past and so many versions of self and so many charming canine companions that it all builds into a complex tapestry of identity and desires filled in unexpected ways. It's worth fighting off the Theraflu-induced sleep to finish it in one long cough-ridden day.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to pick up Bound - it sounds like a great book. My to-read stack is piling up - time for a long, lazy weekend. Or a long weekend waiting for my teen to do something or another!

    Thanks, Melanie