Anne Tyler: Digging to America

September 20th, 2007

At first I thought this was about the orphans, the two Korean girls arriving in the U.S.A., and thei life there. Yes, it’s that, partly. But it’s about belonning, it’s about the life experience, it’s about family. It’s about being human. And it’s among the best Tyler has ever written.

Philip Zimbardo: The Lucifer Effect – How Good People Turn Evil

September 20th, 2007

A thick book on a very hard subject. Zimbardo led the infamous experiment in Stanford University, where students played guards and prisoners so thoroughly that the experiment had to be stopped – not by Lombardy himself, he’d become too involved in it, but an outsider, who saw from her outside point of view the damage done to all involved. The book has long study about the study, but also on other studies, and also on something not a study, but the cold reality: How supposedly good men in Abu Ghraib suddenly became something else. (The similarities with the Stanford experiment are chilling.) Before I read the book, I was sure I would resist becoming one of the bad apples. Not any more, I’m human, I have the potential.

Lewis Buzbee: The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop

September 20th, 2007

Only another book lover will understand the feelings this book will evoke. A beautiful story of growing up as one, and of the bookshops feeding the love of books — and bookshops. It also makes the reader think about their own book addictions and its start. A bookaholic will almost drown in it, the rest it will, unfortunately leave untouched. Their loss.

Jean Rhys: Wide Sargasso Sea

October 31st, 2006

I don’t remember, if the first Mrs Rochester of “Jane Eyre” was the original “Madwoman in the Attic”, but Bertha Rochester sure was one. Here’s her story, the story of Antoinette Cosway, whom her new husband starts calling Bertha, and also a story of West India, of the freed slaves, of the hot and of the European experience there. Especially woman’s experience. At parts the story didn’t hold well together, but parts are breathtakingly well written, thought provoking, unforgettable.

Robert Charles Wilson: Spin

October 4th, 2006

A long, heavy Hugo winner with big heavy subjects about the humans, the universe — and everything. Very well written, with some good, intriguing characters. Only by the end Wilson somehow feels to be losing some of his touch, but on the whole. it must be one of the most exiting, best written Hugo novels I’ve ever read — its effectiveness will follow me for a long time. (Not to mention I felt relief yesterday, when I saw our home sun was its normal self, so well had been its future described.)

Lionel Shriver: We Need to Talk about Kevin

October 4th, 2006

Some people just aren’t meant to be parents. And some books are not meant to be reread — for a long time at least. A very painful narrative of a family experiment — what else can I call it — gone badly wrong, and Kevin, who grew up to do horrible things. and unforgettable character, in the end a bit too much larger than life. A person filled with so much hate, could he be able to plan and carry out such an elaborate thing he does; he’s supposed to be a teenager still, after all. A nightmarish work, got badly under my skin, but a very good read, too.

Marina Lewycka: A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

September 12th, 2006

Funny, well-written, interesting. All true. But as for funny, I’m not sure of I find domestic violence funny, not even here. As for interesting, most of the stuff about the former Soviet Union (how my teachers would have disagreed with me, if I had told them in the 1970ties I would be using those words in my lifetime) was all familiar to me, as is the way many women from there take advantage of the situation to get to West, ad well as many men in the West take advantage of the situation to get a wife — while there has, in many cases, been a good reason for their lack of wife. (Violence can go both ways.) But I don’t say my time with the book was wasted, it was enjoyable enough, and true, had one of the funniest end sentences ever.

Ron McLarty: The Memory of Running

August 7th, 2006

It’s one way to find oneself; go cycling from New Hampshire to Los Angeles, and go through one’s life. Well, losing weight the same time seems a bit irrelevant compared to what Smithson Ide, the main character goes through. He’s a living breathing person, good company to a reader, and his family comes across as believable, and alive, although by the time Smithson begins his journey, the family is dead. But he soon learns he’s not alone, and life throws at him good and bad — are people really so violent so quickly? But it is an enjoyable good read almost to the end, then it suddenly feels we are rushed and somehow the end itself didn’t fulfill all the promise that had been built up. Maybe it’s so in life, too.

Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude

August 7th, 2006

A look into two very unfamiliar territories for me; Brooklyn, NY from the 1970ies to the present day, and the music in it, mostly of the kind I haven’t mush listened. The two boys, Dylan and Mingus, are alive enough, and their growing up well depicted. Also their different families, somehow I didn’t miss the mothers much. But the magical realism in the book, that felt a bit like an afterthought glued over, it would have been good enough a book without it.

John Brunner: The Sheep Look Up

June 15th, 2006

John Brunner was one of the great far seers of science fiction, dealing with matters like overpopulation, computers or pollution long before they became an issue dealt with in everyday media. This book is about pollution and its effects — damaging effects that start destroying life on this earth. Some people fight a losing, hopeless battle against polluters and they have the money and they have the power. It’s a hard book to read, definitely not for pleasure, but it does make you think, and think hard. And also ponder about Brunner’s vision of the future. In the early seventies, he didn’t see personal computers or mobile phones coming, in this story situated in the late 200th century, but he did see a lot else. We can only hope he was wrong about the pollution — or global warming resulting from it.