I simply want to read.
I'll more than likely occasionally post on here what I've been reading, and if there is something that really blows my mind, I'll probably have more to say about it and may write up a proper post, but for right now, things are going to be very quiet around here.
As always, happy reading!
2017 editI will continue to blog according to my health and ability, and connecting my posts thru Goodreads, so please be patient if things get quiet around here again this year.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Title: Asterix the Gaul
Series: Asterix the Gaul, Book 1
Authors: René Goscinny & Albert Uderzo
Copyright: 2004 (1961)
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
I bought this in a fit of middle/high school French class nostalgia, as these were a favorite in class for a comical way to read something in French that wasn't from a text book.
A fairly light and quick read, you get a good introduction to Asterix and his friends, mainly his best friend Obelix and the Druid, Getafix, who brews the magical potion that gives the Gauls their super-strength, which they use to keep the invading Romans at bay, thereby keeping their village the only remaining free village in Gaul. There is quite a bit of humor mixed into the story, especially with the characters names (such as Vitalstatistix, the village leader; Cacofonix, the village bard; and Centurion Crismus Bonus).
In this first volume, after Asterix singlehandedly defeats four Roman guards, Crismus Bonus sends a spy into the Gaul village to find out their secret. The Romans then kidnap Getafix to force him to make the magic potion that gives the Gauls their super-strength. Asterix goes to the rescue and then allows himself to be captured so that he and Getafix can have some fun at the Romans' expense. After some calamity with a super-strength potion that has some adverse effects, Asterix and Getafix are released through the help of an unlikely ally.
Asterix the Gaul is a fun introduction to the Asterix characters and world. The art is fluid, colors are bright and the story is clever and humorous. Worth reading if you want a light, fun read.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
First off, I received Hannah Tinti's The Good Thief. This was an ARC that I got through SelfAwareness. According to the book-back blurb:
Benjamin Nab appears one day at the orphanage where Ren has spent the eleven years of his young life. Convincing the monks he is Ren's long-lost brother Benjamin sweeps the boy away into a vibrant world of adventure, filled with outrageous scam artists, grave robbers, and petty thieves. But is Benjamin Nab really who he claims to be? As Ren begins to find clues to his hidden parentage, he comes to suspect that Benjamin holds the key not only to his future but to his past as well.
Sounds good, doesn't it? I can't wait to get into this one.
Then, I received my box from Amazon (curse the 4-for-3 deal!) In that box, I received Full Moon, the second book in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files series, Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, Asterix the Gaul (purchased in a fit of high school French class nostalgia, as I also purchased The Red Balloon on DVD the other day as well, both of which were used in my French class) and lastly Katherine Kerr's Daggerspell, the first book in her Deverry series. I read about this series on Table Talk's blog, and sense she and I seem to share a very similar taste in books, I have no doubt that this is something that I will enjoy.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
This weeks question: What are the most unpopular books you own? Do you have any unique books in your library - books only you have on LT? How many? Did you find cataloging information on your unique books, or did you hand-enter them? Do they fall into a particular category or categories, or are they a mix of different things? Have you ever looked at the "You and none other" feature on your statistics page, which shows books owned by only you and one other user? Ever made an LT friend by seeing what you share with only one other user?
I don't know what the most unpopular book I own is, but I have 20 books in the "You and none other" feature (the name of which never made sense to me - to me that should mean the books only you and no one else has - "You and NONE other" - if it's what books you and only one other person own, to me it should read "You and ONE other") and 3 of those are owned by one other person (they are all May Sarton books - I have never contacted this other person to find out more about their interest in May Sarton, although I should - so few people seem to know about her). 31 books in my library only I own and I know several of those books I had to hand enter. I know that I've gotten to know a couple of people on LT through looking at the library and seeing what we have in common.
Monday, June 23, 2008
I would like to thank everyone who participated in my book giveaway which was generously supplied by the author, J.F. Englert. I am happy to announce the winners are Irish, My Journey Through Reading, Caspettee and Cheryl. (Winners were chosen through a 2-way random choice: everyone was randomly assigned a number 1-10, and then each of the 4 winners was randomly chosen based on their number.) I'll be emailing everyone to get their home addresses, and I'll get the books out in the mail by the end of the week.
Again, thanks to everyone for participating and congratulations again to the winners!
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Title: The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas
Author: Ursula Le Guin
Copyright: 1992 (according to Amazon)
Format: Online short story
Rating: 4/5 stars
While doing my rounds of my favorite blogs today, I found this posting at Gail's blog about Ursula Le Guin's short story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, and was intrigued so gave the story a read. It's a relatively short piece (it should take about 15 minutes to read, if that) that says so much more than what is written.
I'd like to say that I could rise above it all and make the better choice, but given a real opportunity like this, I don't know that I could. Read the story here and think about what your decision would be.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Title: Mr. Fooster Traveling on a Whim
Authors: Tom Corwin, illustrated by Craig Frazier
Rating: 3(ish)/5 stars
So... I'm not really sure what to make of this book. Mr. Fooster decides to go for a walk one day, and ponders questions such as How do mandarin oranges come in perfect little segments without any mechanical engineering? and How come we never see baby pigeons? while he's walking. He then decides to sit for a spell, and blows a bubble with a wand which becomes a car that he drives home, and then decides to sell on eBay and give the proceeds to his favorite charity.
That's chapter one.
Huh? (You probably have this same expression on your face right now). Yeah, I felt the same way.
I think the book is supposed to be about how you shouldn't take yourself too seriously and ponder the little things in life, and in doing this, you won't be tied down to your boring, overly-serious earthly existence (ask the bug who was eating his way across the world, discovered his folly through the bubble blowing magic of Mr. Fooster and floated off into space and ended up somewhere around Alpha Centauri - no kidding. What's in those bubbles, and did Mr. Fooster get it from Alice's Caterpillar?).
Maybe I'm too tired from an entire day spent at the hospital so my mom could have a 20 minute hand surgery, but the book seemed to be aiming at being clever and introspective, but seemed to miss the mark just a little.
The illustrations were nice. In fact, I was more interested in the graphic design elements used in the book's construction that were mentioned in the back of the book.
I don't know what rating to give it either. It's not bad, but it isn't anything note worthy either. Hence, 3(ish) stars. I guess that's somewhere around the middle.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Just a reminder that Meg Waite Clayton's excellent The Wednesday Sisters is being released today. You can read my review here, and then order your very own copy below! I highly recommend this book. The story is what friendship is all about.
This weeks question: What's the most popular book in your library? Have you read it? What did you think? How many users have it? What's the most popular book you don't have? How does a book's popularity figure into your decisions about what to read?
The most popular book in my library is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which according to the LT Zeitgeist, 32,518 people own and is the most popular book on LT. And I have to admit, I love it. I love all the Harry Potter books. I love the progression that not only the characters go through, but also J.K. Rowling's writing technique; just like the kids grow up in the books, so does she grow as a writer with each volume. I really enjoyed reading it and watching that progression.
The most popular book that I don't have is The DaVinci Code, even though I have read it. That falls as the 7th most popular book with 23,291 copies on LT.
I don't know that I tend to base a book simply on it's popularity, but more on what other reader's whose opinions I respect say about a book. I have been drawn to some books based solely on their popularity, however, and in some cases been pleasantly surprised and some I have been disappointed in.
And for a shameless plug, I'm giving away some books! For more information, click here.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Hello, fellow Saloners! I hope this fine Sunday morning finds you all well.
I fell like I have been out of the Salon loop for ages! Between house-sitting several weeks back, and Chicago this past weekend, my Sunday's seem to have escaped from me! My roomie and I went to B&N on Friday and the 15% coupon that they emailed me was burning a hole in my wallet, so I bought another book, Brandon Mull's Fablehaven. I've heard that I won't be disappointed, but I'm a little apprehensive as it's the start of another series, and I don't really want to get sucked into catching up on another series. Especially since I just finished reading Jim Butcher's Storm Front, the first book in his Dresden Files series, and loved it! Now I want to go pick up the entire lot and read it right through. I think I'm going to try to space that one out a little, but Amazon's 4-for-3 deal is looking pretty good right about now.
Unfortunately, that is all I've read this past week. I knew as soon as summer arrived, my reading time would be reduced significantly, and it has. There just always seems something to do during an evening. I would like to sit down this afternoon and reorganize my ever growing TBRSTL pile (To Be Read Sooner Than Later pile - the books piled on my nightstand so I've always got one handy) and prioritize these into what I need to read (ARCs) and what I would like to read in between. I think I got a little carried away with requested ARCs and now I need to really start trying to get a system in place so I don't fall behind on getting them reviewed!
Our library opened their new location yesterday, right across the street from my apartment complex, and it looks lovely. They were to have an open house for the Friends of the Library on Tuesday, but when B and I went over there, it was closed. We had some rather dramatic storms last weekend, and power was out for several days all over the area, so I'm wondering if that didn't have something to do with it. I was going to go to the grand opening celebration yesterday, but had the times wrong and got there 15 minutes after they closed. So tomorrow night, I'm going directly after work so that I can check it out.
I'd also like to remind (or direct) everyone to the book giveaway I've got going right now. J.F. Englert was kind enough to send along several sets of his two books, A Dog About Town and A Dog Among Diplomats, for me to give away and to give up some of his time to answer a couple of questions. I'd like to let as many people know about his books as possible, so if you mention the giveaway on your blog and link back to it, I'll throw your name in a hat for a set of the books. You can read more about it here.
Thanks again for stopping by! I'm hoping to make my rounds to everyone's Salon this afternoon after I've mowed my mom's lawn.
Title: Storm Front
Series: The Dresden Files, Book 1
Author: Jim Butcher
Rating: 4/5 stars
This was just a plain fun book to read. A book that Gail would call "brain candy." Not a challenging book to read, but a great escape all the same.
Harry Dresden is the only wizard you'll find in the yellow pages. He has set up shop in Chicago, and in addition to helping people find their lost items or dealing with the occasional paranormal event, he is also a consultant for the Chicago P.D. After Harry receives 2 calls almost at once, one from a wife whose husband has gone missing and one from Murphy, head of Special Investigations, who has 2 corpses that she'd like to get his take on, his day goes down hill from there. I don't want to give too much more away, but really, the story is quite good.
I liked Butcher's take on magic and how it is formed and where it's energy comes from. It didn't have the feel of, "Well, it's magic, just accept that it happens the way it happens." There are concrete and physical bases from which the magic comes from in this world, and I found it a refreshing change (for instance, when making a love potion, tear up a $50 bill to go into the potion, because money is sexy).
I'm sorry it took me so long to get around to reading these books, but at the same time, now I want to go pick up the lot at B&N, and the rest of my TBR pile is looking a little downtrodden right now, so I may need to space these out a little. If you haven't read these before, though, pick up Storm Front. You won't be disappointed.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in an Author Chat on LibraryThing with J.F. Englert, whose book, A Dog Among Diplomats, had been offered through LT's Early Reviewer program. The book description read:
He reads Proust. Surfs the net. Is the soul of diplomacy.
And when it comes to solving crime,
Randolph is the dog for the job.
Murder has come to Manhattan's East Village. And when detectives call twenty-something artist Harry to the scene, his Labrador, Randolph, instantly smells a rat. Why? Because Harry's missing almost-fiancée-and Randolph's beloved mistress—has been implicated in the murder, which has ties to the U.N. While Harry looks to the spirit world for answers, careening between terror and wild hope that Imogen is alive, Randolph goes into detective mode, using his superior Lab brain—2.3 pounds of smoothly functioning gray matter—to surf the Net, track down clues, and even land a job as a "therapy" dog to a depressed diplomat. Suddenly the brainy, book-loving Lab has done the impossible: he's penetrated the shadowy corridors of the U.N. (which boasts the most vicious, backbiting dog run in the city) in search of a killer. Now it will take all of Randolph's cunning to protect Harry, clear Imogen's name, solve the crime—and stay alive long enough to enjoy his upcoming birthday.
Well, I thought this sounded like a book for me! Having a black Lab of my own, the idea of a murder-solving Lab immediately struck my fancy. I ordered the first book, A Dog About Town, from my local B&N, and when it came in, sat down to what I was expecting to be simply a quirky little murder mystery. Instead, I found a cleverly written and paced book that was more humorous fiction with a little part murder mystery, with amazing insight into the human character and condition when dealing with the loss of a loved one, all seen through the eyes of man's best friend. And I loved every page of it.
I immediately picked up A Dog Among Diplomats when it was released, and was just as pleased with this book as I had been the first. Picking up right where A Dog About Town left off, A Dog Among Diplomats was all that the description made it out to be and more. When I heard that LT was hosting an Author Chat with Mr. Englert, I jumped at the chance to participate in what proved to be a very engaging discussion about his books, the role of genre in marketing and how it is perceived, dogs and their owners and how they interact with other dogs/owners and how approachable we, as readers, feel authors are.
Well, I can honestly say that Mr. Englert has proven to be one of the most approachable authors that I've come across. He graciously agreed to give up some of his time for a short Q&A with me. So, enough of my rambling, let's get on to the questions!
Stemming from one of our LT conversations, and your question to us about genre, was it more up to your publisher to market your book as a "Mystery"? I would assume that it was, as you said that you never wrote either book with the intention to market it in any one particular "genre".
Good question. In some ways genre is a thorn in the side of the dog books because as you and others have pointed out, the books are hard to classify. This kind of marketing decision is basically left up to the publisher and I’m not certain that there would, in any event, be an easy way to market these books. Although my guess is that if and when more people discover and grow attached to Randolph, the books will experience a subtle or perhaps profound marketing shift and have the mystery and comedy categories inverted. For example, The Number #1 Ladies Detective Agency is marketed in such a way that emphasizes the humor, character and setting over the mystery.
And then, as an extension, whose idea was it to go with labeling the books as "A Bull Moose Dog Run" mystery, especially since I don't remember the Bull Moose Dog Run making an appearance in A Dog Among Diplomats?
Very insightful, David. In fact, this is something I’ve never given much thought to until recently when a bookstore owner said something like “you know, Bull Moose doesn’t appear in book #2” and suggested that might be confusing for readers. It’s one of those details that worked fairly well for the first book but might not make sense as Randolph and Harry go further afield. There is no Bull Moose Dog Run in the middle of the Atlantic (i.e., A Dog At Sea) but perhaps we’ll find an equivalent there. But I will say this –without giving too much away I hope— The Bull Moose Dog Run is the “home” dog run and as the duo travel further afield this embodiment of home will probably grow in significance.
Has Randolph always been his own dog, or have any aspects of your own R. Englert worked their way into Randolph's character? And in comparison, how much of yourself do you find in Harry?
I don’t think I’m like Harry at all –there are no spare ribs and old bags of Chinese delivery moldering away under my sofa. But R. Englert has made her contributions to my understanding of Randolph. Certainly her self-sacrificing travails at various New York dog runs worked their way into the book. And on a practical level R. was my ticket into the strange world of owning a dog in Manhattan.
What kind of research did you do to create Randolph, or was it based simply on observation of dogs, be it either your own or other people's?
My research was two-fold. For many years I had been doing a fair bit of casual but mindful reading about neurology and the senses. This formed a kind of basis from which I understood Randolph. Also, an entirely unrelated journalistic exercise brought me to a pheasant hunt in Wyoming where I watched an extraordinary dog follow scent trails through the scrub. Something about that experience changed the way I perceived dogs and this idea of “intelligence.” An important part of A Dog About Town and the series in general is the contrasting of the linear, non-nose driven way that human beings approach the world and the nose-driven way that dogs do. It became apparent to me that if you truly put yourself in a dog’s body –impossible even with the best efforts— many aspects that seem stupid or illogical would make utter sense within their reality (and, in fact, our way of doing things might begin to seem absurd). Randolph loves language and in this way is a bridge to us while he still remains very dog. But I think Randolph also understands the limits of language and how it can be used to simply blow smoke.
What is your general writing process? Do you mull over ideas for awhile before putting them to paper? Did you run into any great challenges finishing the books, or did both stories basically work themselves out as you went along?
My writing process is simple: 1000 words a day no matter what. I can think of no other way to get a book done.
At first the second book presented a challenge because I couldn’t be sure how Randolph would handle a lot more time away from their apartment and how this might effect him. Fortunately, I followed his narrative voice which remained calm and enlightening under even the dire and discombobulating circumstances of book #2.
Both books seem to be as much about the human condition and how we deal with the loss of a loved one and how we grow and continue to move on after that loss as they are a "mystery". Was this a conscious effort on your part, or did that aspect of the story simply grow on its own in relation to the rest of the book?
Another insightful question…I think the notion of loss is central to these books (particularly the first one) as it is to life and by extension any literature worth a damn.
Randolph is an especially good vehicle through which to explore loss because he like most dogs are in a near constant state of waiting. If dogs have one universal trait wherever you find them in this world it is the characteristic of waiting. And waiting is probably one of the most overlooked and undervalued treasure troves for growth and the development of wisdom. In speaking about contemporary politics, one of the wiser talking heads mentioned that statements and strategies were being made in a “Blackberry Bubble.” By this he meant that no one was taking time to reflect on their strategy but simply reacting.
So much of modern life seems to lean toward an instant reaction to things. It might not be the best reaction but at least it’s fast –this seems to be the thinking. I think of T.S. Eliot (and so would Randolph): distracted from distraction by distraction…
Well, I think Randolph would never own a Blackberry even if he could figure out a way to use it. Dogs wait by necessity and biology. They wait for people to take them out. They spend long periods of time lying on the floor saving up their energy for the big hunt (which never comes in Central Park or shouldn’t). But waiting is something that we humans seem to get frustrated by and yet it is in waiting that wisdom can be found. Certainly loss –and the kind of hole-in-your-life loss that Randolph and Harry experience— enforces a kind of waiting that might never end and that can’t be covered up by action… that cannot be distracted away.
Randolph as a book lover is also more inclined to accept such waiting…but in some respects he might accept the loss and the unresolveability of it too readily. Fortunately, the events of the first story, the second and those that follow balance the waiting with the kind of action that takes Randolph and Harry out of themselves and onto growth –but a growth only made possible by the waiting. Another long answer. The short answer: Randolph probably shows all of us habitual “doers” that there is a great value also in not doing.
Any idea when we can expect to see A Dog at Sea on the shelves?
This is a genuine scoop. We’ve just learned that A Dog At Sea will be arriving either in late April or late May of 2009.
I'd like to thank Mr. Englert again for taking time out of his day to "sit down" with me and providing some insightful answers. I'd also like to thank him for providing some books to giveaway! I have 4 sets of both books, A Dog About Town and A Dog Among Diplomats, that Mr. Englert generously sent along to giveaway to my readers. I'd like to let as many people as possible know about Randolph and hopefully they will enjoy these books as much as I do, so if you post a link to this post on your blog directing your readers back here (and let me know about it), I'll throw your name in a hat for a set of the books. If you don't have a blog, just leave a reply here that you'd be interested in reading Randolph and Harry's adventures, and I'll throw your name in, too (see how equal opportunity I am?). I just think these are some really well-written, clever books and I'd like to help spread the joy that is Randolph! I'll take entries until 20 June, 2008.
If you agree with us that this is a ridiculous idea, please visit No To Age Banding and sign the protest. As of this posting, there are over 1,360 signatures on the list, and I for one would like to see that number increase.
This weeks question: Do you tag? How do you tag? How do you feel about tagging - do you think it would be better to have standardized tags, like libraries have standardized subject headings, or do you like the individualized nature of tagging? What are your top 5 tags and what do they say about your collection or your reading habits?
I love tagging my books. I think it's a good way for me to quickly access certain groupings of books. Most of my books have more than 1 tag (according to my LT Statistic page, my books are tagged 2.49 tags/book - I have 1,079 books in my LT library, with a total of 2,686 tags). Generally, I'll tag books by "genre"/type (Fiction, Memoir, Poetry, etc); by series or associated story (i.e. all my Xanth books are tagged "Xanth", or any books that deal with Oz, such as The Wizard of Oz or Wicked are tagged "Oz"); if they are part of a reading challenge of any sort (all the books read this year are tagged "100 Book Reading Challenge 08"); sometimes by how I received the book (i.e. "Bday 08" or "Xmas 07"). I tag all my unread books "Unread". I tag all my ARCs as "ARC" and then also by which program (such as "LT Early Reviewer" or "BN First Look"). If I have a particularly large number of books by one author, I'll use a tag of their last name (I have most of May Sarton's works and several literary studies on her work and life, so these are all tagged "Sarton"). There are any number of other ways that I tag my books, and I don't think that I'd like it if it were standardized. I like the flexibility of personalizing the "searchability" of my own library to my own specific needs. If there was a need to standardize it everywhere, I'd still like to be able to have a separate, personal tagging option.
My top 5 tags are "Unread" (236 books - awful, isn't it?); "Fiction" (225); "Fantasy" (158); "Comics" and "Graphic Novel" are tied (135); "Sarton" (96).
Monday, June 9, 2008
The first I picked up is The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges. I bought this at the Field Museum in their gift shop attached to their new exhibit, Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids. I had looked at this book probably a year ago, and then more of less forgot about it, and then remembered about it again about a month ago, but couldn't remember the title or who wrote. I could only remember how unique the cover looked. Well, imagine my surprise when I found it sitting on the shelf at the museum! I know I'm trying to still hold off on purchasing any books right now, but I couldn't pass this one up.
The description, from Amazon, reads: "[Borges], writing with sometime collaborator Guerrero, compiled 82 one- and two-page descriptions of everything from "The Borametz" (a Chinese "plant shaped like a lamb, covered with golden fleece") to "The Simurgh" ("an immortal bird that makes its nest in the tree of science") and "The Zaratan" (a particularly cunning whale) in An Anthology of Fantastic Zoology in 1954. He added 34 more (and illustrations) for a 1967 edition, giving it the present title, and it was published in English in 1969. This edition, with fresh translations from Borges's Collected Fictions translator Hurley, and new illustrations from Caldecott-winner Sís, gives the beings new life. They prove the perfect foils for classic Borgesian musings on everything from biblical etymology to the underworld, giving the creatures particularly (and, via Sís, whimsically) vivid and perfectly scaled shape. "We do not know what the dragon means, just as we do not know the meaning of the universe," Borges (1899–1986) and Guerrero write in a preface, and the genius of this book is that it seems to easily contain the latter within it."
I think I'm going to read this one in sections. I think it might be a little tedious reading all the entries straight through.
When I got home last night, I found that I had received another ARC in the mail, John Scalzi's Zoe's Tale. I've wanted to read Scalzi for awhile now, but I didn't realize when I requested this book that is was part of a series. It is described as being a stand alone novel, so I'm hoping that I can get into it without having read the rest of the series, but I may have to set this one aside until I can read the other books first.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Hello everyone! Sorry I missed last week, but I had such a hectic weekend the day just got away from me! I've had a good couple of reading weeks, but this last week itself has been rather slow. I've tried to read The Good Fairies of New York but it just hasnt been able to hold my interest. I've received a couple of ARCs in the mail this last week or so, so I may try tackling one of those instead.
I've kept to my book buying moratorium, with the exception of a Birnbaum's guide to Walt Disney World, as I'm going in September with some friends. I'm in Chicago right now for the Printers Row Book Fair, and I assumed that I would be buying all sorts of books there, but alas, nothing! It's five blocks of used book vendors set up outside and you would not have believed the shear number of people that were there! It was also a rather hot and humid day (somewhere in the upper 80s) and it made for a rather miserable shopping experience. We were longing for our little Antiquarian Book Show back home. I'm glad that I went so that I could say I experienced it, but not something I think I will solely come down for again. Today we'll be heading off to the Shedd Aquarium and will be meeting some friends of mine here for lunch before hopping on the train for home.
Thanks for stopping by and happy reading!
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
This weeks question: Why LT?
Why did you choose to open and maintain an LT account? Do you/did you use other online cataloging/social networking sites, like GoodReads or Shelfari? Do you use more than one? Are they different or do they serve different purposes?
I chose LT simply because my friend S was a member and she kept telling me all the great things about it, so I decided to give it a try. I hadn't been on, nor have I since used, any other online cataloging sites. LT is perfect for what I use it for, and don't see a need to use any other sites as well.
My copy of Farworld Book 1: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage arrived last night. This is the first in a 5 book series, and you can visit J. Scott Savage's blog here. I will be participating in his blog tour later this summer; check back for more information soon!
Monday, June 2, 2008
Title: Songs for the Missing
Author: Stewart O'Nan
Format: Paperback from B&N First Look Program for review
Rating: 3/5 stars
I received Stewart O'Nan's Songs for the Missing through the Barnes & Noble First Look Program. I was really looking forward to reading this, as it seemed like an interesting premise: high school student Kim Larsen simply disappears one summer day, and her family tries to pick up the pieces of their lives after dealing with this loss while at the same time trying to get answers to their daughter's disappearance. Ultimately, I was a little disappointed in what I received.
O'Nan takes us on a journey from the initial shock and confusion immediately following Kim's disappearance to the subsequent searches and leads that may or may not lead to Kim's recovery. We experience these emotions through the eyes of several people closest to Kim; her parents Fran and Ed, her little sister Lindsay, her best friend Nina and her boyfriend J.P. O'Nan tries to let us in on their feelings, and each chapter is told from a different point of view of one of the protagonists, but he jumps from character to character and doesn't make it immediately clear whose POV we're seeing, which made it confusing sometimes to know whose story we were be involved in at that point.
It seemed that the book could have been shorter, but I think that is only because of the tedium that O'Nan was trying to instill in the reader over the recovery and search efforts for Kim. That was one thing that O'Nan did portray well, the eventual growing hopelessness in getting anwers about what happened to Kim. There were aspects of the story that were kept from the reader intentionally, leaving us in the dark as well as the those the secrets were being kept from. Yet, when it became clear in the story that the secrets had finally come to light, the reader was still left in the dark as to the exact nature of the secrets; there were hints and off hand comments about what had happened, but never anything concrete. Maybe I'm wrong on this aspect, but I want details handed to me. I don't want to have to speculate on what the author is trying to be enigmatic about.
By the end of the book, I was just reading to find out what happened; I don't think that I cared all that much anymore what happened one way or another, whether or not they found Kim or not. I felt little sympathy for her mother, who I began to feel was being drawn in more to the celebrity of her missing daughter than she was the fact that her daughter was actually missing. It just seemed like the entire experience was just too drawn out and long. I don't know, maybe that was the point.
Overall, not a bad book, but it just didn't seem to click with me. It's something that I am glad that I got for free.