I don't know why I haven't posted in so long. I hate it when bloggers apologize for not posting. No one is paying me to express my opinions...I do this entirely for myself, so I don't need to make excuses if it's not a top priority. However, I do like to keep on top of things in general, and my reading habits in particular.
So without apologies, I will detail the handful of books that I've managed to read over the summer, starting with the one I just this moment finished, because it's still filling my mind.
Anne Tyler's Digging To America will not disappoint Anne Tyler fans. I consider myself one of them. This is a novel about families, about the need to belong, about the need for a clear identity in a world where unique cultures are both revered and suspicious. It is a story that gives insights into the Iranian culture, and Americans certainly need all the insights they can open themselves up to. How does one retain a foreign identity, when assimilation is the expectation? Two couples....one Iranian-American, and one traditional American....adopt Korean children at the same moment in time. Their lives remain entwined from that point on, and two of the grandparents are drawn toward each other as well. There is much bittersweetness in the blossoming relationship, and the bitter and the sweet are rarely in balance. Tyler is particularly gifted at being able to create completely real, ordinary people fumbling their way through their lives. This was excellent reading.
Zorro, by Isabel Allende, is not her best work. She retells the legend in her usual engaging manner, and she creates new parts of the story to fill in the blanks. A lot of time is spent giving Zorro parents and a childhood, which all explains how he came to be the dashing masked crusader of justice.. Along the way, Allende creates new characters, or adds embellishments to the old ones. She throws in a lot of digs at the treatment of the indians...well-deserved, but a little heavy-handed at times. My biggest criticism of her writing in this book was her gimmick of using a first-person narrator for one page at the beginning of the book, and then switching to third-person for so long that it was an intrusion when the narrator eventually re-appeared. This happened throughout the story, and when the narrator's identity was revealed at the end, it was anti-climatic. The ending itself was contrived and unrealistic to me. I enjoyed the reading in spite of what I feel are flaws. I'm just not used to thinking anything Allende writes is flawed.
Mr. Emerson's Wife, by Amy Belding Brown, was a joy of book. This is historical fiction at its best, as Brown fleshes out the woman who was married to Ralph Waldo Emerson and creates a credible scenario of how their lives together worked. I simply loved reading this.
The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls was selected as a community book in nearby East Lansing, and it was required reading for all incoming freshmen. I'm not usually much for memoirs, particularly since it's always filtered through the author's memory and inner censor. Walls writes of a childhood that rivals any dysfunctional family Oprah novel. It was pretty horrific, but Walls and some of her siblings seem to make it through as intact and functional adults. In my book club discussion, some people flatly rejected her assertions of truth...they simply don't believe it all happened that way. I believe it mostly did, which goes to show that some children can get through all kinds of terrible parenting as long as there is a great deal of love to go along with it...and it does seem like the children in Wall's family were indeed loved. This book was worth reading, although I'm still not big on memoirs.
I enjoyed these books....Turning Angel by Greg Iles, Quentins by Maeve Binchy, How To Be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward, and Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. Also Speak Softly, She Can Hear by Pam Lewis, but do be forewarned that the first two chapters are quite grisly and unpleasant. And The Binding Chair by Kathryn Harris.
And now...what shall I read next.....?