Monday, January 22, 2007

The Reading Report

I'm still trying to get through Wise Blood, believe it or not (by Flannery O'Conner, part of my current reading project). It isn't even very long, more of a novella than a novel. More on that another time.

My book group read the Devil in the White City by Erik Larson this month. We were all fascinated by it, and also repelled. It's a nonfiction account of the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 told in alternating chapters with the story of a serial killer who took advantage of the World's Fair to kill (probably) dozens of people. It was interesting to see who skimmed the serial killer chapters to get to the next installment of the building of the fair (like me) and who skimmed the building chapters to get to the next installment of the serial killer. That's what I love about book clubs-- it gets me to read books that I would never pick up otherwise but that later I am glad to have read.

So in the midst of the "freaks" in Wise Blood and the serial killings in White City, I needed a break. For some reason I picked up the original Mary Poppins. I really enjoyed it, unlike some other childhood classics that I've re-read, I thought it stood up very well to the passage of time. So I tried reading it to my son, who did not feel the same. We made it through the first three chapters before he (very politely) asked if we could please read something else.

This past weekend I read The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu, a young adult novel about two children who have to travel to the Underworld to save the lives of their friends who have fallen ill. She has a very interesting writing style that reminds me a little bit of some of the things I've written, so of course I thought it was very cool. But the mannered, distanced narrative style got really old when she was in the midst of the exciting parts-- which is a good thing for me to know. I skimmed quite a bit starting about halfway through. BUt still it held my attention better than anything else I've read in the past month or so, I whizzed through it in a couple of nights.

It brought up something I've noticed off and on for a couple of years now, which is the proliferation of books and movies that are either told from the point of view of someone that is dead, or that are about the afterlife or what happens to people after they die. American Beauty (the movie), The Lovely Bones and Saving Fish from Drowning (adult books), Garth Nix's young adult novels (and this one, of course) come to mind, and I bet there are others. It's an odd thing, isn't it?

That's all for right now.
Aunty BeaN

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