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.