Sunday, August 2, 2015

Books I've Read in the Last Two Weeks and Barely Recall Now

My ability to hold on to a plot line beyond a month is severely limited, which is good and bad. The bad part is that I think I may have a brain tumor. The good part is that I can read books more than once, always with a sense of de ja vu, like I may have read it before. Some of the time, that's because I'm not reading with great attention, but with one eye on the dog and the other eye closing in tiredness (I read mostly at bedtime). But here's an update on what I've read recently, as far as I can remember it. All of these books came from the wonderful, amazing, fantabulous Princeton Public Library. If that library were a man (or a woman), I would gladly make out with it.

1.  Finders Keepers by Stephen King. This book includes characters from his last volume, Mr. Mercedes, which I also read but can't remember very well. According to Wikipedia, it's the second in a trilogy devoted to this town, these characters. Finders Keepers runs over a slightly familiar trope for King, a fan obsessed with a writer (think Lisley's Story and Misery).  But it was... boring. By King standards, because one of his greatest strengths is that he creates page-turning tensions. You must keep reading until the end. That was true of this book, but the plot was boring. A bad guy kills an author and steals his money and all of his unpublished work and then buries it in his own back yard, after killing the other two people who helped him pull off the heist. He then goes to prison for a few decades for a different crime, and the kid whose family buys his house uncovers the treasure a few years later.  The novel centers around the killer being released and tracking down the little boy. Not to ruin it for you, but there is a scene at the end where the bad guy burns to death trying to rescue the books, not unlike what happens to Annie Wilkes in Misery. I didn't care much for the kid or his plight and the characters seemed flat. I read it cover to cover though.

2. By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham. If you haven't read The Hours, you must. This book did not compare to that one, but the writing was lovely, so many beautiful sentences. He reminds me of McEwan--they both write about moments in life where the character is trying to decide what it all means, why are we here, what does life mean, but not in a pontificating or obvious way. The story was about an art curator who thinks he might be falling in love with his wife's fucked up younger brother.

3. Long And Faraway Gone, by Lou Berney. This is a crime novel about two characters trying to solve mysteries from the past. One is a detective hired to figure out why this woman is being harassed at her place of business (he's also a survivor of a terrible crime 20 years earlier); the other a woman whose sister disappeared at the county fair twenty years ago. I liked it, but it felt like the writer wasn't sure how to resolve the mysteries. Both were solved when other characters just messed up to what had happened. With no consequence. Also, the two crimes did not link up in any way and the characters only fleetingly intersected. Which story was more interesting? The guy who couldn't figure out why he survived this mass shooting in a movie theater after-hours. No answer was forthcoming. That question was not answered.

4. The Dangerous Husband by Jane Shapiro. I picked this one up mostly because I thought, Oh, finally, a book with the word "husband" in the title instead of "wife." This quick read was a dark comedy about the difficulty of staying married, particularly when the husband is chronically, hyperbolically clumsy and prone to knocking over bookshelves and people at any given moment. Halfway though, the wife realizes she can't leave him, and so he must die. The writing was entertaining, strange, and somewhat tiring with its quirkiness, but I guess that means one should just not try to read it all in one sitting.

I'm also now reading Charles Baxter's interrelated collection of short stories with titles like "Bravery," "Loyalty," and "Chastity." I'll let you know how that goes. Library trip is imminent for later on today.

No comments: