Sunday, February 1, 2015

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Look! Lorelai from Gilmore Girls wrote a novel! Okay, it's written by the actor who played Lorelai, but whatever. I will continue to refer to it as "that book by Lorelai."

Apparently, Lauren Graham used her own experiences trying to become an actress in New York as inspiration for this fun story. It's funny and fun and sweet and enjoyable. I liked it a lot.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

I loved this novel about an architect mother who goes missing. The story is told through emails, letters, notes, and journal-like entries compiled by her 15-year-old daughter. Sometimes it reminded me of Douglas Coupland's writing. Also, it made me think about going to Antarctica. Really good book!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Broken Music by Sting

I picked up this memoir several years ago at a used bookstore, not knowing if I would ever get around to reading it. I thought it would probably be pretentious and pompous, which is kind of how Sting strikes me, even though I'm a long-time fan of much of his music. Jon brought it up from our library a couple of weeks ago, because I was revisiting some of his albums after seeing The Last Ship in New York in October, and I thought I'd better give it a try so I could decide if we should keep it.

It starts with a religious hallucinogenic drug experience that Sting and his wife Trudie had in Brazil, which might be off-putting to some, but it leads into his memories of his childhood and family in Wallsend, England, where he grew up. I loved this part. His childhood was more like something my grandparents would recognize than what my parents experienced, even though he's a few years younger than my parents. Lighting fires in the early morning, delivering milk with his dad in the early mornings, being caned at school -- it was a tough life in Wallsend.

The memoir covers Sting's childhood and then the years after school when he was working all kinds of jobs while he played music with various bands, trying to get to the point where he could make a living with music. There's very little after the initial success of The Police, but I liked reading about the struggles. There are great funny stories that are a bit self-deprecating, like the time he accidentally sprayed metallic-colored hairspray directly into his eyes right before the first TV appearance of The Police. You can watch the video of that appearance here, and now you know why he was wearing the huge sunglasses!

The book was not at all what I expected. I suspect there are other sides to the stories therein, but I found it entertaining and delightful and fun to read. I did have to ignore an inexplicable switching between past and present tense, but I decided I wasn't going to let it bother me, and it mostly didn't. Besides that, it's well-written and engaging. I liked it a lot.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Pale Harvest by Braden Hepner

My friend Stephanie recommended this book to me. It's written by Braden Hepner, who taught a Creative Writing class she took at BYU-Idaho. The writing is vivid and evocative but not too wordy. The story is sad, funny, tragic, hopeful, and reminded me of a T.C. Boyle novel, which I think is a compliment.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I found a used copy of this at a library book sale and, feeling the need for some entertaining fiction, I picked it up and read it almost immediately and within a few days. The suspense starts up right away, with the husband's description of his wife that includes talk of her skull and what might be in her mind and brains. Entertaining it was, though it took a long time to end. It's sort of a mystery, but from the points of the view of the victim and the main suspect.

Warning: contains plenty of language (by which I mean bad language, of course) and some sex. And violence. And creepiness.

Under the Skin by Michel Faber

I can't say much about this novel, except that it's bizarre and creepy and brilliantly written. I don't want to give anything away, and it's better to read it without knowing too much, so don't Google it if you think you'd like to read it, but it begins with a woman driving around in the Highlands of Scotland, creepily picking up male hitchhikers, but only the ones with great bodies. After that, it just gets weirder. Also riveting. Maybe don't read it unless you have someone to discuss it with afterwards.

Warning: contains language, violence, creepiness, and not as much sex as you might think from the beginning.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Savannah, Georgia

I am in Savannah, Georgia for a day and a half visiting my brother Charlie and his wife Deanna and their kids. My dad and mom are also here, visiting longer and staying over Thanksgiving.

Saturday, Charlie and I had a good time walking around the old downtown of Savannah, by the river, and riding on the old tram (now just used by tourists like me):

We also toured the Owens-Thomas House which was very interesting.

We stopped in to visit the Catholic church for a while:

And a few streets over there was this unusual storefront display:

Today after church Charlie, Deanna, and I went to the cemetery and spent a lot of time in the Jewish and Greek sections:

This couple's gravestones had a verse from the Song of Solomon, split over them so they're both needed together to read it, which I think is a romantic way to show it:

On the Greek headstone on the right, the name Savannah is transliterated in Greek as ΣΑΒΑΝΝΑ, though GA. is left in Roman script, and the headstone in the middle leaves both in Roman:

I was excited to see this one which Charlie found and told me about some months ago. It's for an Armenian born in Tbilisi, Georgia (the other Georgia!), with the name also in Armenian script. We only found one like this!

The tide was low, revealing lots of junked headstones that had been thrown away there:

A short but sweet visit. Plenty more to see here next time!