Sunday, August 10, 2014

Diving in: Sunday Salon: Aug. 10, 2014

Diving in:

Diving into the blogging pool.
Absent since January, I need to plunge. Head first.
What happened? Well I got wrapped up in books – long, long books. First Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, then Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries. Then Tartt’s book a second time for book club, because I couldn’t hold onto all the richness of the first read.
 Big tomes shut me up and the blog down for a bit. They seemed so much more interesting than my own thoughts.
So I’ve been reading, not writing.
What else have I read?
 Here’s a smattering.  Jo Nesbo’s The Son.  A bunch of  Robert Craig  -- Chasing Darkness, The Sentry, The Watchman, Suspect.
Back to lit fiction: Anthony Doerr’s  All the Light We Cannot See, a beautiful historical novel set in Germany and France during  and after World War II.
            Then Christina Baker Kline’s  Orphan Train for book group  (a book, which for my taste had a setting, and characters that were too shallow and simplistic. Think junior high school.)  While reading, I argued with the writer’s sense of Maine. I know Kline has lived there – but how and how much? Is she there, as I suspect, mostly on vacation?
It’s sometimes dangerous to read about places you know too well.  I asked myself am I just picky? Would any book set in Maine please? To counteract, I picked up Elizabeth Strout’s The Burgess Boys. And the answers came boomeranging back: Yes. I am picky. Yes. There are writers who understand Maine and its world as I do – only better.   Strout nail’s Maine and its people – how they attach to it and move away from it, come back to it and reflect on it. But then why shouldn’t she?
Pulitzer Prize winner for Olive Kitteridge, Strout pulls her stories  from the crimes and headlines of the recent past, and her characters from her life.   Born in Portland, educated at Bates College in Lewiston, she now makes her home in both Maine and New York City, with her husband Jim Tierney who has some  biographical details in common with her fictional characters.  She sets The Burgess Boys  in both New York City and the in  fictional Shirley Falls, Maine, a small town that closely resembles  the Durham, Lisbon Falls- Lewiston area.  Heck, Shirley Falls even has a Moxie Festival, just like the one Lisbon Falls celebrates each year.  (Moxie is a bitter Maine cola that tastes something like Dr. Pepper).
Then, in the last two weeks,  I took a long car trip  from Virginia to Maine and back. While driving I listened to books on the long list for the 2014 Man Booker Awards. On the way up, I heard Richard Powers’ Orfeo.
On the way back listened to The Siri Hustvedt’s  The Blazing World. Both are written by   geniuses.  I cannot imagine living in either’s head,  but I enjoyed lovely visits.  Both are works on and about aesthetics and culture:  Powers writes eloquently about music in last 100 years. Hustvedt explores gender and identity in the contemporary art world. Will follow up on these two later this week.

Enough for now or I will rattle on and never post.

14 comments:

  1. Haven't read The Goldfinch yet, but I loved The Luminaries.

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  2. I still have the new Strout sitting on my shelves unread. Why, I don't know unless it is that once I've read it I will have to wait goodness knows how long before the next one comes out. While it is still sitting there I can still have it to look forward to.

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    1. A remarkable book. The towns she writes about were in the area where I worked as a journalist for 20 years while living in Maine so there is added interest for me.

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  3. I also read The Son by Nesbo and some Robert Crais earlier in the year. So what did you think of The Son? I liked it even though it wasn't part of his Harry Hole series, which I really like.

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  4. I liked The Son but I missed Harry Hole. Like how over the top Nesbo is. He's campy with his violence.

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  5. I'm glad you're back Barbara, winter will be with us soon enough , I'll need plenty of recommendations ! I don't know Robert Craig .

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    1. Linda,
      You are a big part of the reason I am back. Thank you for your encouragement. Thank you for following!

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  6. Wow! That's quite the list of heavy books you've been reading. I find that I tend to spend more time either blogging or reading, it's hard to find a balance between the two, isn't it?

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  7. Hi Barbara : glad you're back on the blog. I agree with you about Elizabeth Strout and Maine. I'm not from there but I will read anything that she writes. I enjoyed Olive and Burgess Boys. I'm curious what you thought of Siri Hustvedt's book. I haven't read her since 2003's What I Loved. But man does she have talent and smarts! Thanks for visiting my blog. cheers.

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    1. Quick response; she's brilliant. I very much liked this book.

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  8. I'm putting All the Light we Cannot See onto my wish list though honestly, quite when I will get to read this I have no idea. Next decade maybe??? i started reading Siri Hustvedt but then went off on my business trip and didn't feel like carting a heavy book with me so never finished it.

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    1. I think you will like both books. Hustvedt's a bit convoluted but in a good way. The Light combined great story telling with strong characters. Good to hear from you.

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  9. I loved Olive Kitteridge! Welcome back :)

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