TEN ON TUESDAY
OK, Let’s try this again! Last week my post was eaten by tumblr and today I’m late (it’s Wednesday); but nonetheless, I have been reading and listening!
I finished Snow Falling on Cedars (by David Guterson.) It’s a beautifully written and evocative story about a Japanese man on an island off of Seattle, Washington who is accused of murdering another man in the fishing community. There’s racial strain (post-war America), heartbreak, injustice and vindication. The whole feel of the novel reminds me of a single note being played very slowly on a violin: There is all this slow building of tension as the poignancy and anticipation build at the book’s own pace. It’s not a book you race through: Rather, you slow your breathing down and savor the story. I have only one complaint in that there is a major loose end that isn’t tied up by the end of the book. No one seems to have noticed; but it really bugs me and prevents me from giving it five stars.
I’ve also knocked off a couple more short novels and a children’s story: Lesley Castle (by Jane Austen), The Uncommon Reader (by Alan Bennett) and Coraline (by Neil Gaiman.) Lesley Castle is actually a collection of three stories that Jane Austen scratched out at the age of sixteen. For the Janeite who wants every little scribbling of Ms Austen’s, this would probably appeal; but the writing is really so inane (and in the case of the last story, unfinished) there really isn’t much of anything there except for the academic. The Uncommon Reader was a cute story about the Queen of England who happens across a bookmobile parked outside the palace kitchens. I think “twee” is the word I’m looking for :-/ Finally, I picked up Coraline.. I’ve never read the book, listened to the audio or seen the movie, but I was very curious about it. My nine-year-old daughter saw the movie and didn’t like it at all (She’s not one for the dark or weird.) Anyway, the story reads very much like a knight’s tale: a quest, a dragon, acts of courage. The illustrations were interesting, reminiscent of Ralph Stedman with a folkloric twist. I’m thinking about writing a hat trick review of the book, audio and movie :-)
I’ve started reading Tortilla Flat (by John Steinbeck.) It’s about some broke down (as in poor) paisanos in Monterey, CA who make do with a certain amount of guile and a lot of self-justification. They are pretty much harmless though and you can’t help but feel a certain amount of affection for them. This is another short novel and while I would have normally finished it over the week-end; I have to admit I just haven’t felt like reading for a few days. It’s not a slump per se, just that I’ve got too many other things on my mind that I need to focus on and not escape into a book!
I totally forgot to read a chapter from A Short History of Byzantium (by John Julius Norwich) this past Sunday; but I’ll make up for it by reading two (chapters) this coming Sunday and finish off the first part.
I finished The Last Werewolf (by Glen Duncan; narrated by Robin Sachs.) For the life of me I can’t figure out why they didn’t use a second narrator for the final chapters of the book; but they didn’t! Anyway, Robin Sachs was great and his reading made the book a little bit more palatable. I had no problem with the explicit language or vocabulary; just the obtuse exposition of existentialism and the ridiculous secondary characters that read like 1980s Hollywood casting call rejects.
I’m halfway thorough Half-Blood Blues (by Esi Edugyan; narrated by Kyle Riley) and I’m trying to decide whether to continue or not: The story is great, which would argue for the glass being half-full and finishing the book. OTOH, the narration is terrible and argues for the glass being half-empty and DNFing the whole thing. The narrator is listed as Kyle Riley, who appears to be a white West-End actor; but the narrator in the audiobook sounds like an African-American. If I really am listening to Kyle Riley read this book, kudos to him for sounding like an African-American (from whose POV the story is told): the cadence, informal and slangy language of the book are “edge-to-edge.” BUT and this is a huge “but,” otherwise the narration is way off: the narrator doesn’t pick up on textual clues (e.g. she said softly - the narrator practically barks out the line), all the characters sound the same regardless of gender, nationality or age, there are mispronunciations (e.g. “Liesl” should be pronounced so that the first syllable rhymes with “bee,” not “eye”) and the narrator sounds very pleased with the sound of his rich, deep voice. Is this really the Whole Story narrator or, someone that Macmillan picked up for the book (and didn’t re-credit the packaging)?
I’ve moved The Eleventh Plague up and added Pinned to the second position. I originally got these two titles to participate in the SYNC program via The Audiobook Community; but since ABC moved to a FB-only initiative (which doesn’t format for groups within the page), I’m not pursuing it. Nonetheless, I went through the trouble of getting the two titles and I might as well listen to them and free up some space on my iPod!