It’s Not All Mary Poppins

An Orgy of Literary Dimensions

In the past week, I’ve wallowed shamelessly in an unrestrained self-indulgence of reading. Since July 28 I’ve read:

Amsterdam, by Ian McEwan
Mrs. Craddock, Somerset Maugham
the five people you meet in heaven, Mitch Albom
The Mice Will Play, Edward O. Phillips
The Reader, Bernard Schlink
Family Matters, Rohinton Mistry
The Red Tent, Anita Diamant

I’m about to tackle Muhammad, by Karen Armstrong, which I’ve been told is much more accessible than the last book of hers I tried (A Brief History of God). Never did finish that one, though the first few chapters were very interesting. After that it just became far too dense.

My opinions on all these?

In the Lots of Fun, or Really Interesting category fall:
The Mice Will Play and The Red Tent.

In A Good Read, even though I found the epilogue unnecessary, far too long, and a detraction:
Family Matters

Nice: mildly thought-provoking, not very deep really, but nice:
the five people you meet in heaven

Disturbing:
The Reader. Why, oh why didn’t he TELL the judge what he knew? I just don’t get it. And without that, what’s the point of the story?

Much ado about nothing:
Mrs. Craddock. This was a short story, stretched out to an entire novel. A waste of 10,000 extra words.

Completely inexplicable and far-fetched/unlikely:
Amsterdam. (It won the Booker prize, too. So is the problem me or the book?)

All that and finished a table, too! What a woman.

August 6, 2005 - Posted by | books

9 Comments »

  1. I’ve read the Mitch Albom book. The made for TV movie wasn’t too bad for, well, TV.

    I agree with you synopsis. Hmmm, I still haven’t picked up a book today. Husband is working… Grr….

    Comment by ieatcrayonz | August 6, 2005 | Reply

  2. you = your

    uh duh.

    Comment by ieatcrayonz | August 6, 2005 | Reply

  3. What a woman! I’ll second that!
    Q

    Comment by Q | August 6, 2005 | Reply

  4. Have you looked at The Battle for God? I’ve read the first two sections; I am awed by how smart (for lack of a better word) Armstrong is. And A Brief History of God is on my table, waiting.

    I think Ian McEwan is overrated. WILDLY overrated. Booker Prize shortlisters I love: Headlong (Michael Frayn), Alias Grace (Margaret Atwood), Waterland (Graham Swift), and, most dear to my literary heart, The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje).

    Whew. Sorry–you just awakened the slumbering Enlish lit professor in me. (Aren’t you the one who recommended not putting one’s brain on ice?)

    Happy reading!

    Comment by Susan | August 6, 2005 | Reply

  5. Crayonz: I’m now putting on my Older, Wise Woman mantle: Oh, my dear. You must learn to read when your baby is around. It’s possible. I read when five of them are around! Not for hours at a stretch, perhaps, but in fifteen minute bursts, for sure. It’s about sanity.

    Q: thanks, sweetie!

    Susan: My sweetie (Q, there) has read Battle for God. It’s kicking around the house somewhere, I’m sure. He’s just finished the Mohammed book so that I can begin it. Yes, she has quite the mind on her!

    Thank you for confirming my opinion of McEwan. It’s not that the plot was so hard to follow, but that it was so oddly constructed…I just removed a few paragraphs here. I’ll end up with a post in the comments section if I don’t watch myself!

    I find Margaret Atwood to be hit and miss. Alias Grace I quite enjoyed, and The Blind Assassin as well. Oryx and Crake, on the other hand, I despised. The Handmaid’s Tale was all right.

    I’ve never read The English Patient, though I loved the movie. Generally I like the book far more than the movie, so this bodes well.

    And now I have two totally new suggestions to add to my summer reading list!

    Yes, I am the one who warned against putting one’s brain on ice. My kids have long since learned that if mum doesn’t get her reading time, she gets cranky and anxious – go through withdrawal, essentially! Everyone is better off if I get my fix.

    Comment by Mary P. | August 6, 2005 | Reply

  6. Read The English Patient–the movie is lovely (good lord I have the biggest crush on Ralph Fiennes, and on Juliette Binoche too, I think) but the novel has very little to do with the film. The language is so very very beautiful.

    I feel the same way about Atwood, although I’ve not read The Blind Assasins.

    I wish you could be MY nanny, Mary P!

    Comment by Susan | August 6, 2005 | Reply

  7. Susan: I love talking about books almost as much as I like reading them. This exchange has been fun. (Thanks for the compliment, but I think you’re too old for a nanny, dear.) 🙂

    Comment by Mary P. | August 7, 2005 | Reply

  8. Strangly enough my reading has slowed since having children, one thing I am looking forward to when the “angels” leave home is being able to read, in peace, more than one paragraph at a time.

    Comment by Daily Commuter | August 8, 2005 | Reply

  9. Oh, my reading has slowed, too! But if it were to stop entirely, I’d go mad. I’m wallowing in the luxury of unrestrained reading because I’m on holiday – and my youngest is twelve! And I do think that most good parents (among whom I include myself) tend to give our first-born children a little too much loving attention! A little benign neglect asserts your right to a private life, and allows your child to develop some independence. The ability to amuse themselves is a gift parents give their children.

    Comment by Mary P. | August 8, 2005 | Reply


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