Thursday, February 21, 2013



Six more books to keep track of. Today I'm taking a huge bag of books back to the La Manzanilla Book Store which deals in 2nd hand books and uses the proceeds to assist secondary school students with their costs. Like many things here, it is run by volunteers.

Last week I read some of my La Manz poems at a public reading put on by the local writers' group. It was great to be able to share them in the place they were born (last year).

In the next few days I'll have a link to put up to a new one, written here this year. Stay tuned!

            Mary Sharratt
                        —tells the story of Hildegarde, an 11th Century German anchorite turned abbess who was last year made a saint, and if the stories about her that Mary has woven into this wonderful tale are true, she deserves it.

            Angie Abdou
                        —a raw, sometimes amusing, sometimes not, look at “mountain culture” and the people who like to get out in it in the winter, this novel might make you think twice about skiing out of bounds. And doing lots of dope. Especially at the same time. But probably not, if that’s the sort of thing you tend to do.

            J.K. Rowling
                        —yes, I read this because I was curious about what she’d do with adult material. Yes, she can tell a story. Would this book have soared to the top of all the best seller lists if it hadn’t been the bastard child of the Harry Potter books? Maybe not. But it’s okay. Kept me reading, although I did take a day off in the middle of it to read The Canterbury Trail, just for a change of pace and because I brought that one down here last year and never got around to reading it then.

            Barbara Kingsolver
                        —okay, so everyone who can turn a page read this one ages ago. Came out in 1998. And yes, it’s every bit as good as all of you said. In 1960 or so a Baptist preacher from Georgia takes his wife and four daughters over to the Belgian Congo to do some missionary work. More than anything, he wants to baptize all the village natives in the river. The one with the crocodiles (which, I understand, are nowhere near as complacent and the ones I visit practically every day here in La Manzanilla). He’s a pain in the butt. The story is told by the women in his life, each one with the distinctive voice that is the hallmark of a Kingsolver novel. Wonderful story. I’ve got her new one on my Kobo and am keeping it like a special treat while I read a few more of the books around here.

            Philip Roth
                        —I don’t believe I’ve read anything by Roth since Portnoy’s Complaint, and it was only when I read the list of novels he’s written that I remembered he is responsible for Goodbye Columbus, too. This one was published in 2001 and is a short but not particularly sweet reminiscence by a university prof, now 70, about the affair he had with one of his students eight years before. Seems she got under his skin (and he, hers) and he needs to go over it all in great detail. While he’s at it, he examines the morality of the sixties and how it changed practically everything. And I have to say, I found myself nodding at times. I will recount a tiny story for those of you who are good enough to be reading this far. The other day I tried boogie boarding for the first time. Tried it and loved it. The waves were pretty good and I got the hang of catching them, unlike person X who was here and didn’t. I sent an email to my sister in which I went on at length about how much fun I’d had, and how great it was to finally be better at a sport than X was. My sister wrote back: “Linda! You are talking about a sport that you do lying down, of course you are good at it.” But back to The Dying Animal, I’d have to give it an odd rating, as in it’s an odd little book.

            Beryl Bainbridge
                        —this one’s a romp! Published in 1978, it’s a novel that conjurs Adolph You-Know-Who at the age of 16 going to Liverpool to visit his half-brother. He’s shy, awkward, rude, socially inept, and in the course of the story we’re given excrutiating scenarios about how he might possibly have done some of the things he did. Numbers on wrists, for example. The forward-combed forelock. It’s fiction, of course, but really, how could you (and why would you) make up a character like him? This is the third Bainbridge I’ve read this trip and I just ordered Every Man for Himself which is about the Titanic. How she manages to load so much into every word is beyond me.


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