Saturday, August 10, 2013

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - II

I haven't really stopped reading, I just stopped posting about those books I actually did read. To make up for it, here is a selection of random summer books—each of which I found memorable in some way:

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides was a big blockbuster over a decade ago, and deservedly so. A family history that touches of race, gender-identity, US social upheaval and the downfall of Detroit, and that's just for starters. It could have been a mess but Eugenides pulls it off. It will be read in the future.

The Pig Did It  by Joseph Caldwell is one in a series of British comedy/mystery novels. All the tropes are there, freshened up with some modern references. I wouldn't be surprised if this series gets picked up by the BBC someday. Forgettable, but laugh out loud fun.

Hey Nostradamus!  Is gen-x author Douglas Coupland's look at a Columbine-type school shooting. Not a grim as it sounds, but it is a penetrating look at the causes of and effects from such a modern tragedy.

David Byrne’s How Music Works should be titled How David Byrne Thinks, but that doesn't diminish this book in any way. Very thoughtful analysis of the modern music scene, with a surprising plea for greater amateur participation.  Should be a textbook in music appreciation and music composition classes. This is a book about the why of music, not the how.

Masters of Atlantis is a thirty year old book by Charles Portis, the author of True Grit. Portis is a master of idiomatic American speech, and he pulls out all stops in this wild yarn about a group of misfits who create a successful arcane cult in the twenties and then spend the rest of their days frittering it away. It takes a while to get going, but it goes out with a bang.

Finally, The Far Traveler (2007) is another book by Nancy Marie Brown about the Iceland Sagas, this time about Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir, a contemporary of Eric the Red,  who was the first European to give birth in the New world, outlived a succession of husbands, and even visited Rome in the 11th century! Brown is a good writer, but her work always seemed to be a little light to me. A good companion to her previous Song of the Vikings, she probably could have gotten one great book out of these two and her blog.

On a more ephemeral note, Auður's I Heart Reykjavík blog has been getting better and better, with more personal posts, it is by far the best Icelandic website of which I'm aware.

Those of you seeking a truly unique "literary experience" may want to check out Clayton Cubitt's hysterical literature, definitely NSFW!

By Professor Batty


Blogger Jono said...

Currently in the midst of The Far Traveler. Read two of Indridason's while on vacation, so it is a good summer for reading. Thanks for the update.

Blogger oroboros said...

Just finished Coupland's Eleanor Rigby. Enjoyed it a lot; recommended. Maybe you've already read it?

Blogger Professor Batty said...

I've read all of Coupland except for Generation A and Player One. Hey Nostradamas! is one of the better ones.

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