Sunday, 31 January 2010

Sunday Salon: January Round Up

The Sunday

Highlights so far:

Sookie Stackhouse
I finished the most recent addition to the True Blood saga. This is probably the first time I have dipped my toe into the paranormal fiction genre and completed my mission (Twilight ended in a ball of fire and an unfinished read). Dead and Gone has a 'Final Battle' feel to it and I'm not sure where Harris is going to go after this. The book opens with the Weres/shape shifters coming out of the closet. And the small matter of a murder occurring in the backyard of Merlottes. Believe it or not, Sookie has more pressing concerns such as mad, bad fairies turning up. Thoroughly enjoyed this adventure and read it almost in one sitting. Now I just have to wait for series 3 of True Blood later this year *grumbles*

The Believers by Zoe Heller
Absolutely loved this book. It's a short read (comes in at just over 300 pages) and follows the Litvinoff family in New York. The patriarch, Joel, suffers a massive stroke and this provides the framework to explore the relationships in his family. Audrey: his hypocritical Socialist wife. Rosa: their eldest daughter who is looking to religion to answer her empty life. Kara: the youngest girl who is stuck in a loveless marriage, trying for a baby. Lenny: the adopted and feckless younger son.

Heller has such a fantastic way of writing that highlights the flaws of characters. Kara's weakness for high calorie snacks, Audrey's nasty and downright cruel temper. The Believers is an adpt title for the book as Joel's stroke provides a stimulus for his family to question the very (shaky) foundations its based upon.

Despite this, the book does have a bittersweet ending. I found myself cheering for one particular character and mentally jumping up and down, waving pom poms. Although I was surprised Heller chose to end the narrative at that particular point. Was it, perhaps, to convey a small sense of hope and optimism for the characters she had created?

Go read it. Go on, I dares you :)

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Farber

Finally finished this door stopper of a book last week. My creative writing tutor had warned us about the ending. Silly thing to say but it just ends. Although you can guess what happens, Farber doesn't explicitly show us where some of the characters end up. It is nice to read something in which you're not spoon fed an ending but it did leave me wanting more.

The language and sometimes explicit sex scenes may put some people off but please read past this. In the later stages of the book, it truly doesn't matter and there's very little sex that takes place. An important feature of the narrative due to the changing role of Sugar, the book's prostitute and some may call her the heroine of the book too.

February looks like it's going to be the month of the Millennium trilogy for me. I broke my aversion to buying hardbacks and used some Christmas money to buy The Girl Who Kicked A Hornet's Nest by Steig Larsson. Already I've been sucked into the final installment of the lives of Lisbeth Salander and Michkel Blomskiv. It does make me sad that we won't see any more from these books due to Larsson's untimely death.

Finally, I was saddened to hear of the passing of JD Salinger. Thank you, sir, for writing The Catcher in the Rye. I read it when I was 12, didn't understand it very well but numerous re-reads later and Holden Caulfield has a small place in my heart. A glass will be raised in his honour this evening.


Pour of Tor said...

I too grumble over the amount of time I have to endure between seasons of True Blood and volumes of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, although I have an affectionately critical relationship with both. In many ways I like True Blood and (to a lesser extent) the Sookie books, which are less ambitious as cultural critique and more about long relationships between characters, best when they aren't so... apocalyptically plotted. When they are simple about how real life in a normal Southern community adapts to the revelation of a supernatural element. So I wish the plotting in both would become less melodramatic and just settle down to exploring the small stuff again. But I do think that Dead and Gone was one of my favorites so far, and this may largely be because Eric is my favorite character, more enjoyable BY FAR than Sookie herself.

(Female) Opinionated Reader said...

Not sure if I replied but thank you for stopping by my blog. I wonder if Harris is somewhere on record saying that Sookie is an annoying character. Even Ms Austen disliked some of her heroines (Emma springs to mind here).

I think there is a lot of scope in Eric's character, especially as he is meant to be a century old. A good idea for a spin off series, perhaps?

Aarti said...

So interesting that Crimson Petal and the White seems to be garnering new attention now (I think it is being reissued). I could not get past the first 150 pages of that book. It was like pulling teeth! Not sure why I was so against it, but it just didn't work for me somehow!