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« October, 2009 »
The Dark Room

Got this book for a dime at the Des Moines public library booksale. Didn’t have high hopes for it but it turned out to be quite a gripping read. Sort of a “who done it when you can’t remember what happened” story, this tale of a woman whose fiancee leaves her to marry another woman. The finacee is then found brutally murdered [along with the other woman] and the spurned woman attempts suicide, or does she? I thought it was going to be a shlocky sex-crime filled book but okay for the airplane and it wound up being a pretty inteersting twisting and turning crime novel.

Dangerous Laughter

The only thing I did not like about this collection of short stories is that I’m a pretty serious an of Millhauser already so I had already read a few of these stories when they were originally published. Thus the book went by too fast and I was left at the end of it sooner than I would hav eliked. Millhauster is an amazing master of several types of stories -- the meticulous explanatory stories, the teen coming-of-age Bradbury-esque stories, the almost-normal-but-not-quite stories -- and it’s always a joy to see what he comes up with. Starting a story of his I’m always wondering just how he’s going to manage to turn the idea on its head just a little bit and I’m always surprised and delighted. Fun book, wish it had been longer.

A Stranger in the Kingdom

I had read Mosher’s more recent book On Kingdom Mountain recently and really fell on love with the Vermonter vibe and the family of people and their neighbors who lived in the Northeast section of Vermont. As someone who, while maybe not a Vermonter, at least lives here, it’s fun to be able to notice neat little geographic locations and think “oh hey, I know where that is!” This story takes place in the 1950s whereas the one I read later actually takes place earlier. I recognized the location but sometimes had a hard time lining up the characters from one book to the next.

This book takes on the sticky topic of racism when a black preacher comes to town and a town normally pretty well unified -- except for the rift within the church -- splits up over a crime that happens within the town that some think implicates the new preacher. Mosher draws a lot of different characters with a lot of differing motivations and perspectives and all of this set against the lovely Vermont background and the aditional themes of baseball and old-time newspaper journalism made this a wonderful and rich read.

Isaac’s Storm

[review pending]

One Man’s Wilderness

[review pending]

One Square Inch of Silence

Didn’t like this book. Didn’t finish it. I found that contrary to the other nature book I was reading at the time -- One Man’s Wilderness -- Hempton seemed to want the outdoors to be a specific way: quiet. While I appreciate and understand this goal, it seemed like he was perpetually fussy about any and all noises and at the same time drove a rattley VW bus around. I found his distractions at all the noises distracting to me as a reader and by the end of a few chapters was less interested in his campaign about noise and more interested in going outside myself. Neat idea, but didn’t like the book.