Friday, July 11, 2014

reading report: too much time on the plane

Remember "the next post" mentioned in the previous post? This isn't it. Still mulling that one.

In other news, you may have missed it in the comments a few weeks ago, but Laurel recommended a novel called Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, particularly for those who are planning a trip to Italy. It is perfect for that purpose, but it's also the best book I've read in years, so go find a copy of it even if you aren't headed to Italy. I tried to read it not long after it came out and never made it past the first chapter. Maybe because Walter's description of Pasquale, a young Italian who has recently inherited the Hotel Adequate View, felt motivated by pity. I've had my fill of novels about poor, victimized, wounded people, how they got that way, and why they will never rise above it. But Laurel recommended it highly, so I persevered. For which I am grateful, because Pasquale turns out to be a wonderful character, the heart and soul of the novel--and he does rise above his circumstances, although in a much more interesting way than I would have predicted. It is a terrific book, warm-hearted and generous, beautifully written, often funny.

This is starting to sound like an overblown description of wine (woody and fruity with a sexy nose and overtones of toasty oak). Just go find it. It's about Hollywood, movies and movie stars, a tiny albergo on the coast of Italy, the sometimes surprising nature of true love, selling your soul (or refusing to), Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, and the Donner party. Can't miss, right? I think I'm going to read it over again, because if it has a flaw, it's that there are lots of things going on and I'm sure I missed some of them.

On the return trip, both of my flights were delayed, so I ended up with plenty of time to read. Tawna Fenske's third novel, Frisky Business, turned out to be the perfect antidote. I've followed Tawna's blog for a long time, so I feel like she's a friend, although I've never met her and she has no idea who I am. She just gets better and better. This one, the story of a woman who takes over as director of development at a non-profit in Bend, Oregon, is just about the perfect romantic comedy--amusing, fizzy-light, but intelligently written with some worthwhile insights into people and their motivations. (see? like a wine description again.) I just wish she'd slow down a little and trust her story more, because it felt a bit rushed at times. Fun read, though, and if you're stuck on a plane circling Minneapolis for 45 minutes waiting for a thunderstorm to move through, you'll be just as grateful for it as I was.

And that's all the news from here. It's hot as heck here and since we don't have A/C, that makes things a bit miserable. But we've got fans and we're headed out to the lake this weekend to swim. Hard to complain, because that's what summer's all about, right?

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