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