06 August 2009

A multitude of mini-reviews

Since I'm so behind-hand on this I'll just give some mini-reviews to catch me up.

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather: this is actually from several months ago for "Literature by Women" at BNBC but I forgot to get the review done; suffice to say, if you are looking for a Willa Cather book, and have read My Antonia or O, Pioneers, you'll like this one; it has a looser storyline but wonderful description

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell: also an older "Literature by Women" pick that I missed on the review list; a longer novel by an author contemporaneous to George Eliot and the Brontes; while not having the scope of, say, a Middlemarch, this is a very good look at Victorian families even with the missing chapter (Gaskell died before completing the final chapter, so while the entire story of the novel is intact it is missing the final knot in the bow)

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh: more like an interconnected series of short stories rather than a straight-up novel (shifting narrators, points-of-view, dialectical spellings dependent on narrator, etc); very bleak but also fascinating minatures of Scottish drug culture in the early 1990s under Welsh's very unforgiving microscope; I had to read parts out loud to get comprehension from the Scots-dialectical spelling but it was worth it

And Then There's This by Bill Wasik: interesting (and quite short) account of the rise of viral culture by a man who dabbled in creating viral events (remember the flash mobs?); I borrowed this one because it was in hardcover and, while it was worth reading for the information conveyed, I wasn't likely to cough up the hardcover price for something so small

The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers: from "Literature by Women" June; a good mystery (that doesn't even get to the "murder mystery" part until about 60-70 pages in) set in rural England; Lord Peter and his man Bunter are called in to assist in solving the mystery which also revolves around a small town's church bells; I needed the assistance of several online sources to divine the meaning of the campanology terms used throughout the book (the "nine tailors" of the title refers to the nine "teller" strokes tolled to mark the death of a male adult inhabitant of the parish)

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga: this was Kat's pick for our F2F booksellers group from my store; the author uses a very unique premise in allowing the narrator to tell the story; the premise is a little out-there some times but I really enjoyed this novel for its portrayal of the clash between rural poverty and cosmopolitan/Westernized riches and the system that reinforces those extremes

Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell: I picked this up as part of a buy-2-get-1-free sale and it looked intriguing - mysteries and murders surrounding the existence of a lost work of Shakespeare; intriguing this is not; the plot is convoluted, with multiple cloak-and-dagger escapes from bad guys and lawmen, flying around the world in disguise, secrets at the Folger, and . . . the bad guys BLEW UP HARVARD'S WIEDENER LIBRARY (sacreliege); the denouement of the novel isn't any better; pass on this one

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson: "Literature by Women" July selection and it was a fantastic book to read in (what was supposed to be) sticky, hot July; I thought Jackson did a great job using the limited 3rd person perspective to let the reader wonder whether Eleanor was nuts or not and whether Hill House was haunted or not; I'd like to read some more Jackson, maybe We Have Always Lived in the Castle

The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir: yet another installment in my Weir obsession; this one felt a little dull but I think that was because so much ground had already been covered by Henry VIII: The King and His Court; this was still very readable and I did learn some totally random fact that Anne of Cleves was the longest-lived of all Henry's wives and she was buried on August 3 (my birthday) about a week or so before Mary I died; next up on my Weir list is The Children of Henry VIII

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