Tuesday, October 9, 2007

hiya peeps - #s 3, 4 & 5

I've been gone for awhile. So much has come up in the last few weeks. An unexpected week-long trip to Boston, good news on family health, some pro bono graphic design work and a new class that I'm taking at Otis.

But today, I'm here to talk to you about books. Books from my reading list to be precise. I've knocked off three more since the last time I posted.

I'm pretty pleased with how my progress has picked up for the rest of the year. It's nice to have a story to look forward to, something you can curl up with and immerse yourself in. Now if the weather would just cooperate and stop being so darned sunny all the time. Am I the only Angeleno who doesn't care for her famed gorgeous climate? Would it kill us to have a little more rain??

I digress.

Book number three that I finished reading is by Austin Grossman and it's called Soon I will Be Invincible. It's an entertaining concept of a story of modern day superheroes in some sort of parallel universe where the narrators are either the villian or one of the superheroes. By parallel universe, I mean that the reader is supposed to believe that this story takes place in a world as familiar as our own with all the references from our recent history, but in a world that also incorporates alien and mutant individuals with super hi-tech possibilities. A world where superheros have agents and PR packets and endorsement deals. A world that still seems to be riddled with mundane everyday crime. Some of these creative little bits are amusing, but just that. I feel like the writer spent a lot of time on everyone's back stories, but didn't really have a new story to tell. Like he just wanted to reference the common gossip that everyone's shared about the supers and the villains but not much else. It might have been more successful as a graphic novel instead. It reads pretty easily and quickly, but it didn't move me enough to recommend it to you, my friends.

The books do seem to be getting better, though as I go through my list. Book number four is On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. It's well written and I really enjoyed his exploration of the two characters, a young bride and groom on their wedding night. Each is struggling with their own particular anxiety as they are about to consummate their marriage. A lot of the book goes through talking about each character's childhood and past, a little about their families as if to provide explanation of the person in this honeymoon hotel suite and how they got there. And then there's a revelation that the main character comes to at the end that is somehow not terribly satisfying.

Something that I'm having problems with in all the books I've been reading are the endings. It seems like the writer just tacks some sort of epiphany to the last 10 pages and then the story ends. It feels like a cheat in some way, like it's too convenient. But perhaps I am being a trifle picky.

Another nit that I could pick is the sort of affectedness I feel like some of the contemporary writers have with their narrative voice. Their choice to write with the voice they do feels more like a gimmick than the true narrator of the story. It's a minor defect that doesn't take away from the story and sometimes it's amusing, but overall not effective. On Chesil Beach is exempt from this kind of affectation which I appreciated. McEwan just tells the story like it is. Not a bad read.

The last book I finished reading (just last night as it were, narrowly missing another monetary contribution to the Santa Monica Public Library) is an older book, Anne Tyler's Accidental Tourist. Of course now I have to see the movie to see how they compare (5 bucks says that the book is better, anyone? anyone?) having missed it back in the 80s when it first came out. Even so, I had a hard time keeping William Hurt and Andie MacDowell's faces out of my head as I read the story. It's well written and engaging. I really like the characters from the very beginning. Do you ever read a book where you get really into the lives and world of the characters and you want to hang out with them or invite them over for dinner, or read more about their lives and friends and families in subsequent books? That's kind of how this book felt. I love the Learys and all their idiosyncratic organized ways. Again with the sudden epiphany and an ending that felt a little bit tacked on, but the rest of the book more than made up for that. And now I really, really want to get a welsh corgi.

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