Saturday, May 28, 2011

Philosphy and Music (but, you know, not in a heavy way.)

I Think I Love YouAllison Pearson's I Think I Love You is her second novel, and I was a little hesitant about it. However, my friend G assured me that it wouldn't irritate me as did her debut, I Don't Know How She Does It. (There are a lot of pressures in being a working mom, especially one whose kids inhabit a world with many stay at home moms, and Pearson's protagonist wasn't the first person in the modern world to confront them, despite the self-congratulatory tone. Pearson is such a deft writer, and funny, which made the flaws all the more aggravating.) This moves to new ground, which is explored with a kindness which is nevertheless unflinching. Here, Petra is one of thousands of 13 year old girls in 1974 obsessed with David Cassidy. Her obsession with the pop star is tied to her mother's disapproval of anything not high culture, and her attempts to find a place for herself within the hierarchy of popular girls in her small Welsh town. The second half of the action takes place when Petra has her own 13 year old daughter, and very effectively holds a mirror up to the early parts of the story.

The Charming Quirks of Others: An Isabel Dalhousie Novel (Isabel Dalhousie Novels)The Charming Quirks of Others by Alexander McCall Smith is the latest in his series about Isabel Dalhousie, an Edinburgh philosopher who often obeys what she sees as a moral imperative to do a bit of investigation into a troubling matter - though her friends often see it as an inability to mind her own business. Isabel is full of her own charming quirks, and if I knew her, I, too, would seek out her advice and help. As with everything he writes, McCall Smith's Dalhousie books are so imbued with a sense of place that the character of the city defines the action as much as anything else. And as with many of his characters, her wisdom and considered thought about everyday moments enable Isabel to discern motives that others would prefer stay hidden. I've read just about all of McCall Smith's adult fiction now, and most of it on audiobook - his work is well-narrated by some extremely talented voices, and it's always fun to listen.

A Long Way DownNick Hornby is another author I generally enjoy, but I haven't made much of an effort to read his complete works, as is my wont with authors I like. After finishing A Long Way Down, I might just have to change that. (On one bookshelf or another around here we should have his latest, since R reviewed it.) The unlikely protagonists here are four disparate souls who meet on the roof of a tall London building on New Year's Eve - and they're not there to watch the fireworks. Suicide with an audience daunts all of them, so they instead forge a bond that keeps them all going, at least for a bit. While they don't get around to liking each other much, the support does allow them each to begin valuing themselves. The scandal-ridden t.v. personality, the lonely mother of a severely disabled son, the rebellious teen, and the washed-up musician are largely the same people at the end, but they are (spoiler!) still alive, and intend to keep it that way, which makes all the difference.


  1. A Long Way Down is my favorite nick hornby, with About a Boy running a close second.

  2. Now I have even more books to read!