I’m about halfway through “Strange Pilgrims,” the compilation of short stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. They are about the lives of people originally from Latin America who are now in Europe, and I think my ignorance of Latin American culture and history are working against me. I’m enjoying the stories, but I wasn’t really absorbed in them until I hit one that blew my mind.
A woman’s car breaks down and her primary concern is to get to a phone so she can tell her husband she’ll be late. A bus stops to pick her up. Lulled by the rain, the woman falls asleep. When she wakes up, she discovers the bus has stopped at an institute for the mentally ill, and all those oddly quiet passengers are sedated patients. Of course, the people at the institute believe she’s a patient, too, and they ignore her protestations that she just needs to use the phone. So she’s restrained, sedated and goes through this terrible ordeal. When she does get access to a phone, the line as to whether she needs to stay in the institute is significantly blurred.
It’s the kind of story that made my mind go, “Augh!” I loved it. I don’t read many short stories, but I’ll throw this one in the little bucket of ones that left an impression.
By next week, I expect I’ll be on something completely different. A co-worker said she would bring in one of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels, because as I mentioned on the latest book giveaway — don’t forget to enter! — I haven’t read any. If you’re a fan of Evanovich, give me some recommendations.
Last week I went through the summer vacation book recommendation comments and compiled the best for print. I’m still accepting comments on the blog, and I’d like some from new people, so please pass the post about and let your friends and family share their love of books with the Roanoke and New River valleys.
I hope you had a fun-filled, book-filled weekend. Don’t forget to share any book-related news, tidbits, anything. A big thanks to HerbalTee of C’burg who passed some book-related articles on to me. Future blog post material there. I appreciate it, Herbal!
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Then the writing became so fluid that I sometimes felt as if I were writing for the sheer pleasure of telling a story, which may be the human condition that most resembles levitation. — Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “Strange Pilgrims”
Happy Monday, readers!
I’ve had a busy reading week. I finished “The White Princess” by Philippa Gregory, and the review will appear online this week and in print this Sunday. Gregory’s “Cousin’s War” series is really picking up. I haven’t read all the books, but each one I have has been an improvement over the previous one. For those of you who are into the series, her book about Elizabeth of York is pretty good.
After that, I read “The Heretic Queen” by Michelle Moran. This inspired my blog post about reading two books of the same genre in a row. I’m pleased to see I’m not the only genre-jumper out there. “The Heretic Queen” was sufficiently different, what with it being set in Ancient Egypt and written in a different style. I whizzed through it in less than a week. Maybe a good beach read! Which reminds me, I’m pulling comments from the summer vacation recommendation thread and investigating whether we can mold them for print. I’d love to get more recommendations, so ask your friends and families — including your kids, because children’s books are fair game — to join in.
I’ve moved on to a short story compilation by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who I think writes beautifully. I don’t read many short stories, and I have a feeling I’ll get a blog post out of this one.
This week will see another book giveaway, this time “The Heist” by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg. Out of curiosity, who wants this book? It’s kept a solid appearance on best-seller’s lists, but I feel it was pushed aside by “Inferno” and “And the Mountains Echoed.” It’s gotten decent reviews. I’m trying to think of a good book giveaway question. Check back later this week! Until then, what are you reading?
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Greetings, fellow bookworms! I hope you all had a lovely weekend.
We had one big bombshell in the book world: J.K. Rowling has written another book. In secret. It’s the detective novel “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” under the pen name Robert Galbraith. It earned praise before anyone knew the author’s identity, and of course now it’s leaped to the best-seller’s list and is selling out. A spokesman for Waterstones (a big bookstore chain in Britain, like Barnes and Nobel here in the States) called it “the best act of literary deception since Stephen King was outed as Richard Bachman.”
I admit I’m impressed that Rowling pulled this off and that the book was analyzed on its merits, not on the author’s background. That has to be every author’s dream. I’m also intrigued. I’ve mentioned before that thrillers aren’t my thing, but I’m open to read anything by Rowling. “The Cuckoo’s Calling” has nothing in common with Harry Potter, and apparently not with “The Casual Vacancy” (which I haven’t read yet). Anyone else keen to get their hands on Rowling’s latest?
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I am so tired; all I want to do is sleep. I want to sleep all the day, from dawn until twilight that every evening comes a little earlier and a little more drearily. In the daytime, all I think about is sleeping. But in the night all I do is try to stay awake. — Philippa Gregory, “The White Princess.”
Another month, another book stuff thread. Summer is well under way, but it’s not too late to recommend good summer books. I’m still interested in running a compilation in print, but the more submissions I have, the better. Don’t forget to say why it’s a good summer read.
Also, I’m keeping the Civil War book giveaway open until the end of the week, so it’s not too late to enter. I’ll pick a winner Friday.
If you saw the front page in The Roanoke Times today, you saw Duncan Adams’ story about Theresa Potter, who helped James Michener with 11 books. I’ve never read a Michener; I hear they are good, but are bogged down by a lot of historical stuff that isn’t necessarily relevant to the story. Any opinions on his writing?
Also, thanks to HerbalTee for e-mailing me about the New York City library’s plan to get rid of millions — yes, millions — of books. This is a very beautiful library, and it is a shame it is struggling, but it pains me to think of all those poor books. I do understand, though. I took seven or eight books to donate to Roanoke library last week, and the librarian’s first response was, “We can’t, we have too many already.” Then she went through the pile and pulled out a few recently published ones, but said she couldn’t accept the rest. I took them to the Salvation Army instead, but I sympathize with our local library. I’m sure the buildings are packed to the gills. I don’t know how many books are available for circulation, but now I want to know.
Meanwhile, I finished “The Serial Killer Files,” by Harold Schechter, and I recommend it to anyone who likes true crime. It doesn’t go very deeply into any one case and is slightly repetitive in places, but I do like Schechter’s style. He has devoted entire books to some serial killers, so I might try one of those next. If you want to read “The Serial Killer Files,” I suggest you do it in broad daylight in public and not late at night just before bed.
Now I’m just starting “The White Princess,” by Philippa Gregory, the latest book in her Cousins’ War series. The princess is Elizabeth of York, the daughter of “The White Queen”‘s Elizabeth Woodville. I wasn’t overly fond of “The White Queen” — the part where Elizabeth and her children and mother are imprisoned was tedious — but I’m optimistic about this one. There’s lots of conflict to mine.
Happy July reading, everyone! With what book did you kick off the month?