Sunday, July 4, 2010

Books I Probably Won't Finish - Rule of 50

This has been the rainiest week I can remember in a long time! It is Fourth of July evening and I'm sure a lot of picnics and fireworks displays are being curtailed because of the onslaught of rain. And to think I was worried about who would water my lawn while I was away!

Rain here in Southwest Florida never gets me down. In fact, I relish it! Don't get me wrong, I worship the sun, in fact, worshipped it a tad too much and now must eschew as often as possible those cancer causing rays that nail us between the 10 and 2 hours. But for a reader, these rainy days are a delight beyond compare. One never has to feel guilty lolly-gagging around the house with a good book when you simply can't do anything else.

Of course I did, do something else, that is. My energy fully restored from last week's cold, I proceeded to paint my living room this weekend and am one wall away from a marvelous feeling of completion. I'm thinking this will be the last time it should have to be done - in my lifetime here anyway. It all looks so clean and lovely and fresh. While I paint, I listen  to books (that is after I watched Rafi Nadal blow the competition off the court this morning at Wimbledon, ditto for Serena yesterday).

Will someone whose book group has discussed The Devil in the White City (and whose hasn't?) please tell me what all the hoopla is about. I'm halfway through and I'm still not feeling it. I admit that the writing is fine, the research on Olmstead and the architect Daniel Burnham, who brought the entire outrageous undertaking of the Chicago World's Fair together is certainly first rate.

 Larson's interweaving of the second story about the infamous Mr. Holmes who stalked young women new to the city, won them over and then disposed of them in the worst possible way, is a clever device that does keep the story moving along. So what's wrong with me?

Here's a chance for those of you who don't normally speak up to have a say. Tell me what I'm missing! Make me finish this book! Notice that a few posts back I actually had an author pick up on the tiny little mention of Dolley Madison and the White House and she encouraged me to do some further research. I will take her up on it and look for her book.

In deference to my wonderful, talented editor at Library Journal, who indicated when we met in Portland that she lobbied long and hard for Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall to win the National Book Critic's Circle award, I decided to put aside my distaste for historical fiction, English history in particular, and take up the novel. Wow! I just can't do it. Note to college roommate - Cathy Jones, if you're reading this, I bet you'd love it!

I know that this book is very clever, witty, some say brilliant even and my decision to listen to it was right on. There were so many actors in the production that it was like listening to a full blown Shakespearean play right in my car. Trouble with that? I wanted to SEE the actors. Listening just wasn't enough and reading it would, I'm sure based on hearing it, be a slog and a half. And really, how much more do we need to know about all the women King Henry wooed and how he tore apart the church to get what he wanted? Call me a philistine but those 13 discs looked daunting to me when I had only completed 6 and still wasn't enthralled.

Received a new Philip Roth from LJ the other day and it took me no time at all to get through the first hundred pages this afternoon. It's one of his works in the series that involves life in New Jersey back in the 40's and 50's. Remember The Plot Against America? I probably shouldn't say more about this one until the review is published but I'm thinking right now that it's a keeper.

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