This week wasn’t nearly as exciting as last week, but I guess we can’t have a fun vacation and author recognition every week. Actually, vacation tired me out … it was god to get back to “normal.”
What I Read This Week
Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman. I finished this up after starting it on vacation. If you are a “modern” mom, I think you would find much to think about and relate to in this book. She touches on topics from the mundane (dealing witha kid’s homework) to the heartbreaking (making a decision to have an abortion after finding out the fetus has a birth defect). Each chapter is an essay on a different topic related to being a mother, and most were published elsewhere before being collected in this book. It gave me lots of food for thought, and I can already envision all I’m going to have to say when I write my review. Overall, I thought this was a thoughtful and revealing addition to the ever-growing collection of mommy memoirs.
Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor. I finally finished this one. It was not an easy read, but I persevered and, in the end, I began to understand (and perhaps admire?) what the author was trying to do. It ended up being more powerful and memorable than I anticipated. I’m still not sure exactly how the author accomplished this though, as the writing was a tough go. The book chronicles the discovery of the dead body of Robert, a long-time alcoholic. His friends (many of whom seem to be already dead) accompany his body as it is investigated, autopsied and ultimately cremated. Along the way, we learn bits and pieces about these people—all drug addicts or alcoholics who live on the fringes of society. The narrative is choppy, fragmented and often ends in midstream, which is what made it such a difficult read. I suspect this was the author’s intent—to thrust you into the scattered mindset of a drug addict. I’m going to have to think about this more before writing my review, but my initial opinion of the book did improve.
The Circle of Friends: Heather by L. Diane Wolfe. I agreed to help Ms. Wolfe out with her upcoming blog tour in March. (She’ll be stopping by here on March 30th so be sure to swing by and say “hi.”) This is the final book in the Circle of Friends series. Because this was the first book in the series I read, I wasn’t familiar with the other friends who are the focus of the previous books, but I imagine it would be satisfying to have the characters you read about in earlier books make an appearance in later books. This book focuses on Heather—a bristly, opinionated young woman who is just launching her career as an assistant basketball coach for Clemson. Heather faces quite a few obstacles—the impending death of her terminally ill father, a lack of intimacy in her life, and tension with her younger sister. Enter Mark Gardner—the brother of Heather’s long-time unrequited love and former neighbor. Mark is as busy and leery of commitment as Heather. You can probably guess where the story ends up, but Ms. Wolfe does a good job of getting them there in a realistic and believable way. I’m working on my interview questions for the author now. I must say, it is neat to read a book and then be able to ask the author questions about it.
What I’m Reading Now
Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon. Because I read Bad Mother, my next book had to be this one as Ms. Waldman and Mr. Chabon are married and are my choice for the All in the Family part of my Take Another Chance Challenge. And let me tell you, these books are the perfect companion pieces as Chabon’s book is a collection of essays on what it means to be a man, husband and father. (I don’t think these two books are being marketed together but I think they should be.) As soon as I read the first essay, I think I fell in love with Michael Chabon a little bit. He has a true gift for language and a way of making the most mundane things seem funny, amusing, true and universal. I can already tell that this is a book where I want to savor each and every page as the writing is delicious. I’m so glad I decided to try his book The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay this year. Already I know I’m going to be keeping this book for myself.
Have a wonderful week!