for those who are in or around sane

Tuesday, December 5

November books

a few days late... but i had a lot to read!!

the thirteenth tale
by diana setterfield

a bit of mystery, a bit of ghost story and a bit of wintery england. margaret lea sets out to write the biography of ellusive writer, vida winter. her story is one of siblings, abused relationships, and a ghost. margaret, among struggling with her own ghost, gets to the bottom of the story through months spent with the dying vida. this was our book club's pick o'the month, and i'm not going to go much farther in-depth here. it was an ok book, definitely something to curl up with in front of a fireplace with a cup of cocoa!

partly cloudy patriot
by sarah vowell

sarah vowell is a regular writer for this american life and a huge civics nerd. her witty, wry, self-depricating stories are amazing champions for america, it's government and it's people. vowell is admittedly a bleeding heart, lefty liberal democrat to the bitter end. i loved her rationale for going to w. bush's inauguration (to weep for our country, and it's next four year future - ironically, standing next to people weeping for exactly the same thing, only on the opposite end of her ideology). vowell is articulate and funny. she may pick traditionally dry topics, but her enthusiasm and cleverness will show you otherwise. i highly recommend this, especially if you are a left-enthusiast who has become a bit... jaded... with our society.

fortress of solitude
by jonathan letham

this was my audiobook for the past two months. it was a hefty 18 hours long, and the reader was great. i am regretting not reading this one for myself, though. letham's style can be difficult to listen to, as he rolls around in the mud with music, racism and brooklyn in the 70's, 80's and 90's. i would have loved to savor his ruminations in written form. regardless of how i devoured it, i followed dylan ebdus as he peeks out of, and jumps into his self-imposed "fortress of solitude" from his move as a 6 year old to an all-black street in brooklyn to his mother's abandonment, to his search for self in school and finally, back to his dean street roots and best friend, mingus rude. letham's transitions from dylan's childhood to adolescence to college to adulthood are a bit choppy only b/c he changes perspectives as dylan changes his own perspectives. this is good enough where i'd like to buy the book and re-read it sometime down the line.

the ground beneath her feet
by salman rushdie

after 2.5 months, i have finally finished. “wow” you might say – “it took you a long time to read that, gonzo”. well, I am frankly disappointed in myself and my pace for this book, but only because i didn’t have adequate reading blocks. this is a work of art, not just a feel-good novel. it truly sat up and begged, rolled over, and fetched for me, in Shakespearian form.

ok… let me start over. this is the type of book you need to read in quiet quarters, preferably a warm corner with a blanket and a reading lamp. rushdie’s characters demand your full attention, and do not allow for interruptions. you must delve into the tumultuous love story for no less than 45 minutes at a stretch. that said, it took me a long time to get through the book.

love, lust, music, passion, selfishness, the stage, death and humanity are all themes in this beautiful piece of prose. it’s an homage to music, to love… to life. rai merchant tells us the love story of ormus cama and vina apsara. both characters are born with extraordinary musical talent and shine out from the rest of the masses. together, their harnessed talents are untouchable. rai’s perspective really gets at the heart of their story as he expounds both adoringly, and with condescension. he is jealous, generous and always biased, for he also loves the beautiful vina. the three are connected by invisible chains – chains that they wind around themselves and each other, to strangle, to caress, to remind…

rai takes us from their childhoods to ormus’ first sighting of young vina and immediate realization of love, to their long continental separations, soul-searchings and culmination of the rock band, in the heart of the world: new york city.

i could gush for hours about this one. its been a long time since i’ve read anything this satisfying. so for now, i’ll stop and keep the lingering memories fresh in my imagination.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only book I read other than our book club read was The Historian by some person who doesn't write very well. (haha) Ok it was an interesting premise, a historian's look at Dracula, but the author could've used a good editor. There were two stories in one, the father's and the daughter's, which intersected towards the end. Good idea, good plot, decent writing, but waaay too long.


9:54 AM

Blogger dirty orpheus said...

Wow, I'm impressed you made it through that... I looked at the Historian a couple of times but it looks massive. Good to know I can cross that off my list of books to read...

Gonz! excellent selection of reading this month, Ground is prolly my favorite book ever and Sarah Vowell's book is excellent as well

11:07 AM

Blogger dr. gonzo said...

in the spirit of my favorite holiday, thanksgiving, i gorged myself on books in november. :o)

i hope to follow up with a strong list in december too:
jonathan safron foer, william faulker & jeffrey eudigenis... i should put a female in there too... ideas anyone?

11:35 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have 'The History of Love' by Nicole Krauss on my list of 'to reads'. It looks good.


12:06 PM

Anonymous Lowriter said...

Sarah Vowell totally spoke at our college last spring!

1:00 PM


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