I think I might be starting to come out of the reading funk I mentioned in last week’s Salon, and I have Rob Sheffield to thank. Rob is the genius of the brilliantly written and absolutely hilarious memoir Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut, which is the book I turned to this week after yet another DNF. (More on that in a bit.)
If you are a child of The Big Hair Generation, as I am, then you will love this book. I think I needed something funny and irreverent to break through the reading funk, and this is certainly delivering in a big way.
(It’s more than the reading funk, truth be told. It has been A Week. The kids were off from school for six days – parent-teacher conferences, inservice days, President’s Day – making them all dysregulated and out of sorts, and then on the day they were supposed to return to school we were greeted with the upteenth snow day of the year. The Husband’s last day of his job was on Wednesday, so there was the stress of finishing that up. Then on Thursday, he got into a car accident. Thankfully, he is OK (it was the other guy’s fault and everyone agrees that such was the case) and everything seems to be moving along with the car repairs and getting a rental – which was important because he leaves for the new job this morning, which is 5 hours away and making me a single parent during the week and probably some weekends, at least until our house sells. Which I am in the process of getting ready for the market in order for that to actually have a chance in this crappy market of happening.)
Paul Harding’s writing in Tinkers is gorgeous and poetic, and I enjoyed this short novel on that basis alone. The narrative is a little confusing and unwieldy in parts, but the writing always brings one back to the story of George Washington Crosby, who reflects on his life and the memory of his father as he is dying.
After Tinkers, I turned to All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost. I saw this one on the library’s new books shelf and was intrigued to learn that author Lan Samantha Chang is the director of the famed Iowa Writers Workshop. (As a teen in the ’80s, I always thought it would be fascinating to go to the Iowa Writers Workshop. ‘Course, the fact that it was in Iowa was a bit daunting to this girl in the Philly suburbs, but an aspiring writer needs something to dream about, right?)
Chang’s prose is tight and the pacing is such that the narrative in All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost flows almost effortlessly. (I read this over the course of one day, starting at lunchtime and then finishing it up in the evening.) It’s a nicely-written character-driven book that makes one think about how much credit we owe those who have influenced our success and the intangible currency that we all use to pay the price.
I have the reviews of these written, but am not sure when I’ll post them. Probably sometime this week.
Two more books to tell you about today. Alas, there was a DNF (did not finish) in my stack these week. While browsing the library’s shelves, When She Was Electric by Andrea MacPherson piqued my interest because of the title and the cover. I hadn’t heard anything about this (it was published in 2003) so I picked it up. This one was just slow getting started, and just seemed flat. I gave this one the ol’ page 50 test and abandoned it. These weren’t characters who I felt like spending much time with, to be honest.
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