Hello February and other reading news

February 9, 2015 at 3:31 pm 5 comments

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There is something painful about February for me. It is just cold and dark.  It is the last push from winter and the snow is no longer novel and fun.  And yes, I am whining.   But it does mean I hunker down and read a lot – because it is cold and dark and the snow is no longer fun.   Alas, I have neglected to share what I have been reading for over a month so here is another multi-book post.

I was all over the place this last month in my reading but I feel like with a lot of the books I read I was somehow missing key elements in the story.  Which for me makes for a frustrating reading experience.  Sometimes I do think this poor connection is my fault but sometimes I think the author just missed the boat.  So anyway this is where my reading has traveled over the last few weeks:

1. Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi: Good grief, I found this book to be extremely dysfunctional.  Boy Novak is a girl (yep that is a fun twist) who is raised by her abusive father.  She runs away and tries to piece together a new life for herself.  She ends up marrying a man who has a beautiful, charming but seemingly vapid daughter named Snow.  When Boy gives birth to her own daughter, Bird, it becomes apparent that her husband has been hiding his African-American lineage.  And so the book becomes about our reflections of ourselves, our distorted views of others, our need for classifications.  I know, this sounds like a good idea right? But Oyeyemi just has no solid footing in her storytelling. It is an attempt to recreate and then deconstruct, or something artisan like that, the Snow White fairy tale. But all of the magical elements just seem bizarre and forced. The characters are unlikeable and the story is just, well, lacking.

2. Euphoria by Lily King:  I love this writer. I think she is brilliant and Father of the Rain is one of the best fiction books about alcoholism I have ever read.  Luckily, King is still in top form with Euphoria, which is very loosely based on the anthropologist Margaret Mead and her work with the indigenous tribes in New Guinea.  I always find this desire of the Western Caucasian World to assert itself into other cultures fascinating – it is so harmful and self-indulgent but is so frequently seen as a form of philanthropy.  This book was interesting and the relationship between the three anthropologists makes for good story-telling.  I will admit to finding the end abrupt and unsatisfying (which I think means I missed something important) but I still loved the book.

3. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer: This book is snarky, irreverent fun.  It is Shafer’s first book so I can’t imagine how great his next books will be.  The book has three key characters: Leila Majnoun, the beautiful, disillusioned NGO employee working in Burma/Myanmar; Leo Crane, the trust-fund baby whose conspiracy theories may have taken him over the edge into mental illness; and Mark Deveraux, a ridiculous parody of a self-help guru.  I know this doesn’t explain the story but I promise the way their lives intertwine is some strange combination of ludicrous, comical and compelling. How can that be? I don’t know but please read it.

4. The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson: This was the kind of book I needed to read. It is suspenseful and set in Paris (two very good things).  Maud is a young British who has moved to Paris on a very tight budget to become an artist.  in fact, she is the literal interpretation of the starving artist.  In order to make ends meet, Maud finds herself in the employ of a young brother and sister, Christian and Sylvie Morel.  Christian confides in Maud that he needs her as a care taker for Sylvie who is addicted to opium.  Of course there are twists and the Morels are not what they seem.  And of course Maud rises to the occasion, righting wrongs, etc.  It is not entirely original, this novel, but it is terribly fun.  And Robertson sets the stage beautifully.

ceb38a46b41857065256efbab7ba1414I am not sure what the rest of my February reading will bring but I do know at some point I need to tackle “All the Light We Cannot See.” But until then my reading friends, stay warm, eat well, drink lots of hot chocolate and know that Spring is around the corner.

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Entry filed under: February 2015 reads. Tags: , , , , , , .

A full length mirror – “We are not Ourselves” by Matthew Thomas The Law and the Soul – The Children’s Act by Ian McEwan

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. BookerTalk  |  February 9, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Boy, Snow, Bird seems to have provoked contrasting reactions. I’ve decided its just not my cup of tea – the idea of someone called Snow would be a turn off.

    Reply
    • 2. Emily C  |  February 9, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      Yeah, there are a lot of bizarre things in it including the names. I am sure there are better books on your to read list to tackle:).

      Reply
      • 3. BookerTalk  |  February 10, 2015 at 5:33 pm

        i do have rather a lot to choose from Emily

  • 4. Sarah Says Read  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    I need to try Boy, Snow Bird… I read Mr. Fox and was SO confused, but this one at least sounds a little more linear.

    Reply
    • 5. Emily C  |  February 9, 2015 at 7:58 pm

      See, if Mr. Fox was confusing then I think she is not the writer for me. But you will have to let me know what you think about “Boy, Snow, Bird” if you read it.

      Reply

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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.

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