- Broken For You by Stephanie Kallos - a wonderful, strange novel about an older woman who has lived as a recluse for decades creating a community in her Seattle mansion, Broken For You has empathy for all its beautifully flawed characters.
- The Namesake by Jumpa Lahiri - lovely, lyrical novel about Indian immigrants, centering on the second generation son of the family.
- Weight by Jeanette Winterson - a retelling of the Atlas myth, not particularly exciting or innovative. Has many of the same limitations of Atwood’s The Penelopiad.
- Jeeves in the Offing and Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse - the break from Wodehouse did me good, I enjoyed these two thoroughly.
- Grave Sight, Grave Surprise, and Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris - by the author of the Sookie Stackhouse series, these books feature Harper Connelly, who can see the last moments of someone’s life when she is near a dead person. It has a remarkably similar protaganist - a woman who was orphaned/neglected as a child, with a supernatural gift that many don’t believe is real, is an outsider because of that ability. Those who do believe that the supernatural ability is real become scared and sometimes lash out in anger at the main character. Of course, everything is explained breathlessly in the last part of the book.
- Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf - intricately constructed, great attention to detail and the inner lives of the characters.
- Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy - decent book about the generation of women who find participating in things like ‘Girls Gone Wild’ to be empowering. It’s a bit basic as far as feminist analysis goes, and doesn’t dig deep enough in some places.
- Sex is Not a Natural Act by Leonore Tiefer - Female Chauvinist Pigs‘ grown-up cousin. Tiefer explores the ways in which sexology research reflects cultural biases; how sex has been pathologized, such that we label certain sexual acts and attitudes as ‘natural’; how the idea of ‘nature’ is used to legitimate sexual practices; and many more complex issues surrounding sex, sexuality, and gender.
Archive for July, 2009
The main character in Timbuktu is a dog, Mr. Bones. Mr. Bones (or ‘Bonesy’, as he is sometimes called) can understand English. His owner, Willy, is dying, and much of the novel is about trying to find a new home for Mr. Bones as he spends his last day with Willy, and reminisces about the seven years they have spent together.
This may sound like a gimmick - ‘hey, I’ll write a book from the perspective of a dog!’ - and it is, a little bit: but it works. After the first chapter or so, you’re in Mr. Bones’ world, and although Timbuktu is written in third person, there’s no question that the reader is seeing the story, and the world, through Mr. Bones’ eyes.
The story unfolds naturally, with flashbacks of Mr. Bones’ life with Willy, who struggled with alcoholism, depression, and bouts of homelessness. The story is simple, and told economically - very few words are wasted. There’s something very pleasing about a short novel that you can read in an afternoon, and Timbuktu is one of those novels. I was absorbed in Mr. Bones’ story for a few hours, and experienced the entire story with hardly any interruption. It’s a bittersweet book, incredibly human and real.