Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

As I helped my friend M clean out her bookshelves for a move, I picked up The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler . I looked at the cover and thought "hmm...haven't I read this? I have certainly heard of it". ...Author Anne Tyler has written many books. How have I missed this author? She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her 11th novel, Breathing Lessons, for goodness sake. (my next read, BTW !) AND The Accidental Tourist was made into a movie starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner. (already in my NetFlix queue) Really, never saw it and I love those two. (Remember Body Heat ?!)
So, I began the book and couldn't put it down. The story is about a travel guide writer, Macon Leary,  who does not like to travel. He visits the same countries over & over , up-dating the guides that he has already written. He travels all over world and yet never seems to see "the sights" He never ventures too far from his hotel room, checking out restaurants ( even a Burger King in France) that wouldn't be the first ones I would visit. Never anything exciting. Much like his personal life.
When his twelve year old son is killed in a random act of violence, his marrriage unravels.  His wife moves out and he ends up very weird & lonely. When it comes time to travel, he needs to kennel his dog, Edward. He meets Muriel, the quirky dog trainor who works at the kennel and by sheer audacity, she gets under Macon's skin.  She sucks him into her quirky lifestyle & crazy family and after a while, without his even knowing it, his life begins again.
This book is rich and full of all kinds of "characters". And in the end, it makes you wonder about your own life. Are you just accidentally living it?
Highly recommended.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: Devil Sent the Rain by Tom Piazza

essay: a short piece of writing on a particular subject
Tom Piazza is an essayist, author of novels and  a TV writer. He lives in New Orleans and has alot of insight into the still unsettled lives of the people who live there. He also is "in-tune" with the music industry, particularly the blues musicians. These two topics are included in the essays of his new book Devil Sent the Rain.
One essay stands out for me. He tells of living in New Orleans after the hurricane and spending four years rebuilding his home. He comes home one day to find that he has been robbed. Of course, he would like to catch the peron who did it, but he says that they probably have a wretched life already. He then tells us that a worse fate for hundreds of families in the city is that in an effort to rebuild a bigger & better hospital , the city will "take" a hundred rebuilt homes and demolish them. A different kind of robbery.
I was very interested to read one essay about his meeting Norman Mailer and developing a friendship that lasted until Mailer died. Another good essay was about Bob Dylan's transition from folk songwriter/singer to rock'n'roller.
Many good essays in this book, worth the read.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review: The Book of Life by Stuart Nadler

 This is a book of short stories by an author that I have not read before. I jumped right into the first story and all I can say is wow.
"In the Book of Life"  is the tale of an older Jewish businessman, seemingly with everything going for him. Longtime friend as a business partner, longtime marriage, grown kids. So you tell me...why have an affair with the daughter of your business partner?  
"Catherine & Henry" is the story of a love affair that is put to the "test". She tests his fidelity by putting a young, beautiful model right under his nose. Henry failed the test...but so did Catherine.
It is funny that after I read two stories, I thought, hmm...these are stories about life...what is the title of this book? Flip to cover, ah yes ! The Book of Life.
Just weird, happy, sorrowful, filled with regrets kind of stories. Like life.
Highly recommended.
Well, summer is over and I spent it reading some wonderful books. Now, into fall with more wonderful books. I am eagerly awaiting Gregory Maguire's last novel in the Wicked series, due out in November. If you have not read these books you are truly missing out.