So now that summer's officially over here on the east coast, I thought I'd share my summer shore house reading. I used to read a LOT more, but less commuting and responsibilities of the new home (along with a subscription to the New Yorker...which just keep coming week, after week, after week...) have whittled down my books to just a handful. I should be logging these on Good Reads like my friend the voracious reader does, and I promise j. cro I'll get around to it one of these days!
I started Woody Guthrie: A Life in the spring...and it literally took me months (pick it up; put it down; repeat) to read. No two ways, Joe Klein did his homework when writing this book (and I felt like I was doing mine reading it!) -- it is well researched, well written, and proof that there were rebels in music who knew how to rock and write long before Bob Dylan. I really did enjoy this book...it's just the level of detail packed into its 48o pages *maybe* could have been edited a small bit. (This coming from someone who has the attention span of a gnat, so take it with a grain.) The flip side is that the book provides an amazing look into a time in America's history that they just don't teach to kids today ("kids today"...I sound like someone's grandmother!).
I wanted to like I Was Told There'd Be Cake more than I did. The subject matter of the short stories -- woman "coming of age" in New York...her experiences giving it a go on her own -- and the comparisons to David Sedaris had "Laura" written all over it. Maybe the stories were a little too "young" for me; maybe I'm just too jaded (no quote marks there -- I'm pretty jaded!). I liked it. Quick, fun stories to read on the beach. But not the gut-busting laughter I was hoping for across the board. Although the story about being cast as the Virgin Mary at summer camp was one that had me laughing out loud.
Wow is right! The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was this year's Pulitzer winner, and I was a bit surprised. Kind of in the same way I was a bit surprised when No Country For Old Men won Best Picture (The language! The violence!). But this dark and gripping novel is incredible -- the sharp language, the vivid imagery, the shotgun-like delivery of the narrator's Spanglish-laced tirades. I've read quite a few books (fiction and non) that deal with the American immigrant experience, and this is one of the best.
This is a good, good book. Sy Montgomery tells of how her life changed the fateful night she rescued the runt of the litter from one of her New Hampshire neighbors. "The Good Good Pig" almost read like a journal, and I loved how Montgomery wove in pieces of her life as a well-traveled nature writer into her stories of home life with Christopher Hogwood (yup; that's the pig's name). Full disclosure: I became a vegetarian shortly after reading Charlotte's Web as a kid, so this book sort of catered to me. :-)
I'm just finishing this up and I'm totally enjoying it. If you liked Eat, Pray, Love, you'll like this, too. Author Kathleen Flinn finds herself in her late-30s, laid off from her job overseas, and no prospects (career or otherwise) on the horizon. An acquaintance reminds her she's always wanted to go to the famous Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris -- wouldn't now be the ideal time? Each chapter journeys through another lesson -- in the kitchen, and in life -- with recipes ending each (seems to have "book club" written all over it). The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry is the sweet story of one woman's journey...and I'm dangerously closer to packing it in and studying to be a pastry chef with each page I turn.