Here be an account of the reading I accomplished over the past summer, with meager commentary.
-Lloyd Alexander "The Prydain Chronicles" [only faint flashes from when I read them in my youth, so they remained pretty fresh; an excellent fantasy series: a little contrived perhaps in how they get all the characters back together for each successive novel, but your emotional involvement with the characters supersedes this nicely. I especially liked the arch of Taran in "Taran Wanderer," a fantastic progression of character development.]
-Peter Mayles "A Year in Provence" and "Toujours Provence" [an amusing series of anecdotes; mostly enforced the idea for me that I'm more of an Italy person (after Frances Mayes' "Under the Tuscan Sun" and Bernardo Bertolucci's "Stealing Beauty") than a France person (though I've been to neither)]
-Melissa Bank "Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing" [a nice bit of short story interconnectedness; plus I'm a sucker for second-person narration, of which there is one.]
-Rick Moody "Demonology-stories" [Though obviously masterful in their construction, I didn't connect very much with the plots, or characters. Nice run-on sentences, though.]
-Jules Verne "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and "Around the World in 80 Days" [Finally got around to reading some Verne (how was my childhood complete without him? Buried under comic books, I suppose); fantastic adventures, particularly 20,000 (with a great Ray Bradbury introduction).
-Vladimir Nabokov "Lolita" [reread this, on audiobook with Jeremy Irons giving an utterly perfect performance. Some Great with a captitol G Great authors inspire by their greatness, but Nabokov is one of those authors that, if I were smarter, I would just throw up my hands and toss in my writing pen, and focus on something practical, for I find that greatness out of my reach.]
-Don DeLillo "Cosmopolis" [The literary equivalent of polished concrete: smooth, cold and hard. Polar opposite to his "The Body Artist."]
-Mitch Albom "Tuesday's with Morrie" [picked this up on audiobook, read by the author, when the audiobook I put a hold on was lagging. Belied my preconceptions by being not too schmaltzy; but only picked at my heartstrings - never quite giving them a tug.]
-Milan Kundera "Immortality" [Vintage Kundera. A great blend of the creative process of writing, self-reference, philosophical exploration and musing, and character. This guy had better get a Nobel some day.]
-Dan Brown "Angels and Demons" & "The DaVinci Code" [both entertaining, "Angels" infinitely more so; Brown, like Tom Clancy and Tim LaHaye, does a good job of pulling a narrative from mounds of research, but I just don't get what all the multi-million printing fuss is all about.]
-Franz Kafka "The Trial" [Excellent: hard to find an adjective to describe it other than Kafkaesque; though I will admit I found it less satisfying than his short work. As I writer, I enjoyed the deleted scenes of my "Definative Edition"; I wish this was a more common practice - I mean, look at all crappy movies released in two-disc special editions with 10 hours of extras! Wouldn't you readers snatch up "The Shipping News - The E. Annie Edition" or "Grapes of Wrath - The Writer's Cut" with running author commentaries, deleted scenes, making of, and on location features?]
A fairly productive Summer. And while I enjoy discussing any of the books I read, I recommend these as the ones I haven't forgotten the particulars of, and may have something interesting to discuss. Have a merry Fall of Reading!