Saturday, 1 December 2007

A list, just for a list's sake

I just got thinking this morning when I was in the bookshop about some of the books I've read over the past year and thought I'd revisit a few of them just to amuse myself.

And to try and remember if I can remember anything about them, which is always a good test of a book.

So here goes

Empire Falls by Richard Russo - As soon as I thought of this book I remembered that I had to read more of this author. This book won a Pulitzer Prize, which amazed me not because of the quality of the writing, but because of how enjoyable it was to read. After ploughing through some heavy Booker Prize entries it was wonderful to know that somewhere, someone awarded prizes for books that were warm and funny and readable and human. It's the story of a cafe owner, his teenage daughter, his ex-wife, and his cafe regulars. There was an extra moment of joy when suddenly at one point in the middle of it I realised that the chapter I was reading was actually a completely self-contained short story as well as being part of the novel. Yes. Must read more like that.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving - The story of Owen Meany, through the eyes of his best friend, whose mother Owen accidentally killed with a baseball. This was a critically acclaimed book, very funny and very moving, but although I enjoyed it I did find myself a bit irritated by it. Firstly because it started out so comic and engaging and then subtly changed so that at the end it was a tragic, serious political book. I don't mind that at all in a tragic, serious political book but I felt a bit turned-upon in the middle of a comic one. Secondly because there were moments where the author had got just a little bit too amused by his scenarios and he had taken them too far. Also a couple of times we got told the same anecdote twice. Sorry. I mean it was a good read and all, but I didn't lose myself in it.

The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger - Oh this made me cry. But it also made me want to throw it against the wall. If I had been that woman I would just have kept the hell out of his way.

Wicked by Gregory Maguire - honest, guv, my bookgroup made me read it. We find out why the Wicked Witch of the West was so annoyed about the red shoes. It was because her sister had no arms, and her lover was bludgeoned to death in a flat. Oh and there was something about a goat. The fact that they made a musical out of this drivel is amazing.

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