Heavy on the audio books this month. A lot of lis­ten­ing while knit­ting or oth­er domes­tic activ­i­ties happening.

Books Read:

Lucy and Edgar — Victor Lodato (2017)

I fin­ished this out of a dogged sense of loy­al­ty to the old woman who dies at the begin­ning of the book. The char­ac­ters are stereo­types with­out any sort of depth to make them any­one you care about. In fact oth­er than Edgar, the child at the cen­ter of the book, I could have done with­out any of the oth­ers and their pre­dictable behaviors.
But… like I said dogged loy­al­ty — which is in part what this book is about. There comes a point at about 75% of the way through the book where there looks to be only two pos­si­ble out­comes, and nei­ther one of them is sat­is­fy­ing. I guess I also held on to see if the writer could pull off some­thing mov­ing that was­n’t easy or manip­u­la­tive. And I think he did — most­ly. It’s one of the obvi­ous pos­si­bil­i­ties from the mid­dle of the book but it’s done in a way that keeps you from want­i­ng to the throw the author off of the train. (And I can’t be any more spe­cif­ic about it than that or I’d spoil the book for you.)
Still, I don’t under­stand the huge amount of praise that has been lav­ished on the book by crit­ics and review­ers. It’s just not that inter­est­ing or original.

* one more lousy moth­er and dam­aged son *

Geek Love — Katherine Dunn (2002)

Weird, but I think that was the point. The Binews­ki tribe is trag­ic in all kinds of ways and a per­fect object les­son about the dan­gers of fam­i­ly. While the char­ac­ters here are freaks on the out­side they point out to us the fact that we are, most of us any­way, freaks on the inside and our world is warped around that freak­ish­ness. I don’t like to think of peo­ple being unself­con­scious­ly mali­cious; though I see the evi­dence of just that sort of behav­ior every day. In this book the hav­oc wreaked by one self­ish ego-maniac (Arturo) is stun­ning­ly wide and entire­ly believ­able. In fact one of the things that I liked most about this book was how believ­able the most out­ra­geous char­ac­ters and sit­u­a­tions were.
The writ­ing is love­ly enough to keep you involved in the book when the plot and char­ac­ters get beyond your com­fort zone.

* human­i­ty with all its gross, ick­i­ness on the outside *

The Sleep Walker Guide to Dancing — Mira Jacob (2014)

I did­n’t get very far in this, I think because it seemed too famil­iar and I was look­ing for novelty.
* I might pick it up again later. *

Books Listened to:

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender — Leslye Walton (2014)

Narrator: Cassandra Campbell

I read this one a cou­ple of years ago. It’s a love­ly sto­ry with amus­ing and intrigu­ing char­ac­ters. The sto­ry begins with Ava’s grand­moth­er’s trag­ic, ghost-filled fam­i­ly his­to­ry and con­tin­ues on to describe a line of women with what might be char­i­ta­bly con­sid­ered to have ter­ri­ble luck in love, lead­ing up the birth of the twins Ava and Hen­ry. Ava is born with wings and Hen­ry with what we might assume is autism but by the end of the book seems more like a prophet­ic gift of mute­ness. As Ava grows her wings come to define and cir­cum­scribe her place in the world. The trag­ic end­ing you expect is avert­ed, but only nar­row­ly, and only after a good deal of dam­age is done. But hope is a thing with wings. And so is Ava.
The writ­ing is clear and glis­tens with the sub­tle rain washed hues of the Seat­tle climate.
The nar­ra­tion is quite good. Worth a lis­ten if you haven’t read the book already.

* loved it again *

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. — Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland (2017)

Narration: Cast of dozens :)

The new Stephen­son. The title char­ac­ter — one Melisande Stokes an under­paid under appre­ci­at­ed lec­tur­er in lin­guis­tics — finds her­self involved with a mys­te­ri­ous gov­ern­ment agency and the pos­si­bil­i­ty of mag­ic in the mun­dane world. There fol­lows the usu­al byzan­tine plot and riotous com­pli­ca­tion of details that I love in a Stephen­son book.
One of the few writ­ers that I auto­mat­i­cal­ly lis­ten to rather than read. I think that his in-depth asides work best if you are forced to give them equal weight with the nar­ra­tive and that is most eas­i­ly done when the woods are read to you.
DODO is good clean — slight­ly fan­tas­tic fun. A change from Stephen­son’s most recent work Sev­en­Eves which was any­thing but light-hearted. The col­lab­o­ra­tion is seam­less, with no jumps from one writer to the other.
Nar­ra­tion is good, though the accents are a bit over done.
(Odd­ly there is a paint­ing called Melisande by a woman named Mar­i­ane Stokes — this can­not be a coin­ci­dence, not in a Stephen­son book.)

* there are cat’s Schro­ding­er and otherwise *

Middlesex — Jeffery Eugenides (2002)

Narration: Kristoffer Tabori

Briefly reviewed in Sep­tem­ber 2015.  I found the book just as enjoy­able the sec­ond time around. Per­haps more so because I have become more aware of the con­ver­sa­tions sur­round­ing sex, gen­der, and iden­ti­ty and appre­ci­at­ed the light touch that the author uses in insist­ing that we look more close­ly at our assumptions.
Nar­ra­tion is good, and the voice used is just ambigu­ous enough to make the flu­id gen­der of Cal(liope) audible.

* the sins of the old coun­try come home to roost in mid­dle class Detroit *