Friday, January 22, 2016

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

As the most-talked about book release of 2015, I have to admit I had reservations about this book. Over the years, there have been plenty of news stories about people trying to take advantage of Harper Lee, and I was pretty sure this was merely another blip on that radar.

Additionally - as this book was written and rejected by the publisher BEFORE "To Kill a Mockingbird" - I was afraid it would feel unfinished, like a rough draft, or incomplete in some way.

Gladly, I was delighted to find I was wrong, and I really enjoyed the book. While I have to admit it's not the masterpiece of Mockingbird, this is still a pretty satisfying novel in its own right.

While racism is again the theme of Lee's book, the personal issue for Scout is the discovery that her father, who she believes to be perfect and a god, is merely a man and simply human. The pedestal she's place him on doesn't just crack or wobble - it's swept away completely.

We discussed this book for the library's book club, and many people were off-put by the strong, seemingly disproportionate reaction Jean Louise has to her father's "citizen council" membership. That didn't bother me - instead, I wished Uncle Jack would just say what he meant instead of talking around and around in circles.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

How I managed 40+ years old without having read this book (or even seen the movie) is startling in itself. But when we decided to read "Go Set a Watchman" for book discussion at the library, I knew this was the perfect time to set that right.

I listened to the audiobook from our library, performed by Sissy Spacek - I hope I don't have to tell you how incredibly rich and wonderful it was to listen to her interpretation.

The book won a Pulitzer Prize, and until 2015 was the only book Harper Lee published. While the overall theme of the book is racism, it's also really about the first time kids discover the world is a cruel place. I won't go into synopsis or review - there have been more than 50 years of that already.

I did enjoy the book immensely, and reading this book may spur me to try out other "classics" that I somehow skipped previously.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Sophia by Michael Bible

This brief 120-page novella is a stream-of-counsciousness rant - the loves. lust, and life of a unlikely, intoxicated minister of dubious ethics.

Rev. Maloney has sex dreams about the female Holy Spirit and makes a killing hustling his friend Eli in chess games. He's likely to light up a spliff in the confessional, and he just might be sleeping with several female parishoners.

It's a quick read, and I think best if consumed all in one gulp to make the most of the rapid-fire delivery and wildly careening plot. It's profane, but also thought provoking in that Maloney may be the most truthful guy you're likely to meet.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

An explosion, a pretty girl, and a painting of a tiny yellow bird - the triggers that kickstart a new life for New York youngster Theo Dekker. It all happened in just a minute or so, but the repercussions last a lifetime.

At a whopping 770 pages long, this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel carries some heft. So instead, I did my shoulders a favor and listened to this one as an audiobook - all 32+ hours of it. Let's just say I got a lot of quilting time in while I enjoyed Theo's tale.

I don't know what I expected this book to be like (I'm embarrassed to say, more literary? boring?) but I was delighted to discover it's simply the tale of a boy growing up. So, maybe not SIMPLY - he's abandoned, orphaned, oblivious, neglected, saved, and endangered - but it's really a fantastic story about the event that changed Theo's life and the direction it took afterwards.

And I can't even say I wish there'd been less of it - it really was a fantastic story, captivating and engrossing even through 26 discs-worth of material.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold

What happens to imaginary friends when children lose their imagination? Unfortunately, Rudger is about to find out, but it's not just a case his "real" friend Emily growing up - there are evil things afoot for imaginaries.

This juvenile novel was illustrated by the amazingly talented Emily Gravett, whose moody art allows just the right amount of menace. It's a great book for kids just old enough to be abandoning their own imaginary friends, but still young enough to believe in the fantastical.

Personally, I adored the idea that abandoned imaginaries go to the library to hang out until they get a new assignment - it really is a place MADE of imagination, as one character explains to Rudger.