The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden – C Valente
This is a reread. These are among the first of her books that I read and among the first that she published. The prose is not as mature as later prose but the onion structure of the book, with its layers and layers of tales each being told to the listener whose own tale we are reading is fascinating. The interwoven mythologies of the steppes and the sea and the starry origins of the world make me smile. I like it better than some of her more recent work, even if I do occasionally get sick of there being a simile for every noun.
* soothing mythopetic tales *
The Gifts of Imperfection – Brene Brown
Not all that. In part because I’m a devout atheist and Ms. Brown relies on God. A researcher into various human emotions, she is best known for her work on Shame. She’s well know and widely respected and I can’t understand why given that there is nothing new in here. I think that this might not be her best book. Or at least not the best place to have started looking at her work.
* no more interesting than most self-development books *
Culture Clash – Jean Donaldson
One of the better books on canine etiology. It’s been a while since I read it and I was prompted to go back to it by the reports of some recent research into the effectiveness of negative markers in operant conditioning. I wanted to look back at some of the broader work on canine behavior and training methods. If you think of your dog as a furry little child substitute you’re not going to like much of what’s said here. But if you’re curious about how it is that we try (mostly on the sufferance of our dogs) to cohabit with a species that has entirely different rules for going along and getting along, this is for you.
* classic in the field, recommended for every curious dog lover *
Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt
Read by Frank McCourt. In a reversal of the usual Irish family moves to America and makes good. Brooklyn-born McCourt’s family left the USA and returned to Ireland where they lived in the sort of oppressive poverty that most Irish were leaving the country to escape. Opinions are firmly divided on the merits of the book. Some claiming that it trades in mawkish clichés and others that it is transcendent. (Though why anyone would think that it is either of those two extremes I don’t understand.) I think it’s actually a middle of the road sort of book and that I probably would have stopped about a third of the way through if I had been reading it. But I wasn’t reading it I was listening to Frank McCourt read it. And much like his Frank listening to his father’s stories of Cuchiulainn I couldn’t stop.
* Rather like listening to a relative who’s lived and “interesting” life talk about the old days.