Thursday, September 27, 2007

Book Snob?

I really do hate to admit it but I think I'm becoming a book snob. I'm sitting here in my office looking at the photo I had taken with one of my all time favorite writers "back in the day," Elizabeth Berg. Have I changed that much since I picked her up at the airport 6 or 7 years ago? Or, has she?
When The Handmaid and the Carpenter came out I thought it was just an aberration but now, with Dream When You're Feeling Blue, I worry that Berg is perhaps yanking out some of her early material that couldn't get published and reissuing it because she's famous and she can. I was fully prepared to love this book. The dedication to her dad and the photo of what I'm sure is her folks on their wedding day appealed to the romantic in me, reminding me of a similar photo I have of my parents in the 40's. The World War II era has always called to me. My 82 year old aunt thinks that I was born in the wrong time. Still, after coming off an outstanding work like The Time of Our Singing and then listening to The Book Thief, I couldn't even give Berg the full 50 pages that the Rule of Fifty requires.

On top of that I had begun reading Penelope Lively's Consequences, which I hope to finish up this morning, and although it hasn't torn me up the way Heat Wave did about ten years ago, it's nevertheless a worthy addition to her oeuvre. It too begins in the 40's but in England, with Lorna, a young woman railing against the fate of being born to a social climbing family that expects their daughter to be something she can't. In a fit of rebellion she falls in love with and marries an artist. The two of them fashion a beautiful life of simplicity and harmony, raising their daughter Molly in the gorgeous countryside, until the war intervenes and does its usual damage.
Lively can turn a beautiful phrase, as my friend Andrea reminded me yesterday, and I'm coming to love the strong, independent generations of women who evolve from Lorna's lineage.

What else am I listening to that I could take or leave? In the car it's Jeffery Deaver's SleepingDoll. He's had my heart ever since he told a bunch of us at the reading festival a couple of years ago that he chose Lee County's festival over the Virginia Festival of the Book because he heard that ours was where the "regular fans" were at. Gotta love the man! It's not his fault that the book isn't knocking me out. My attention span right now is at near zero. I'll be leaving for a European vacation in a couple of weeks and haven't been concentrating on my Spanish language skills. I'm torn between getting all my overdue books back before I go and learning how not to be an ugly American.

On my mp3 I've got Laura Lippman's What the Dead Know which got rave reviews in AudioFile magazine but it doesn't exactly have me dying to go for a walk this morning either. Lippman has a fabulous reputation and has won multiple awards including an Edgar for her Tess Monaghan series. This book is a stand alone about two sisters who disappeared from a mall in Baltimore thirty years ago and how the dead case is reopened after a hospitalized accident victim claims to be one of the long lost Bethany sisters. Judging by the reviews in Library Journal and on Amazon I think it would behoove me to get off this darn computer, stick on those earphones and head out the door. I'll keep you posted.


TooManyBooks said...

Well, I have to say I've either read or listened to all the book you mentioned. Berg's was O.K., certainly not her best. Loved Consequences and Sleeping Doll. What the Dead Know had ne turning the pages. I know I'm not as "literary" a reader as you are, but I think we mostly agree. Stick with the Deaver book....maybe after you come back from your travels. BTW, you could never be an "Ugly American"!!

Sallyb said...

You're so right about the Lippman. I'm further into it now and really do like it. I think she did an amazing job of getting across the way people who have been hit with a major tragedy like Miriam and Dave handle things so differently.

The Deaver....well, I enjoyed Katherine Dance when he introduced her in the last book but I like it better when she's working with Lincoln and Amelia. She just called them so maybe things are looking up!