April 2006

It's been a while since I updated, and I've been reading a bunch...I was on book tour in Europe (Germany and Amsterdam) and spent a lot of time wandering the city, stopping in cafes and reading.Once again I'm trying to read primarily for my novel which means novels about women, novels with characters who are at once sympathetic and complicated.

The Good Wife by Stewart Onan This book is marvelous. I'm a sucker for a long story, and this once takes place over 25 years. And you know how I feel about prison and prison reform. I will say this - if this novel had been written by a woman, it would have been dismissed as "women's fiction."

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer I especially liked the little boy, and I thought the 9/11 stuff was done better than anyone else has done it. It had true emotional resonance. The grandfather's story did not, however, grab me as much.

Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh This book works much more successfully than her recent novel, Baker Towers. I admire what she did, the three narratives, the man viewed only through the lens of his wives.

The Missing World by Margot Livesy Delightfully creepy.

Morgan's Passing by Anne Tyler I usually love Anne Tyler, but this book bugged me. Perhaps it was simply that the main characters were the usual Tyler mass of ticks and idiosyncrasies, but despite the obvious pleasures of that, they didn't seem interesting enough to me.

Every Visible Thing by Lisa Carey Yay! Another Lisa Carey novel!!!

A Family Daughter by Maile Meloy I loved this novel, despite the fact that the ending disappointed me.

Any Bitter Thing by Monica Wood I seem not to be able to get enough of these dark and gloomy east coast winter novels...

Amsterdam by Ian McEwan Have I mentioned that he's my favorite writer? He's just incredible. Truly. The PLOTS!!

Where I was From by Joan Didion I keep reading and rereading Didion to remind myself to write simply, sparely, elegantly. I wish I could write like her.

Mr. Bridge and Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell Next time someone complains about my characters not being likeable, I'm going to point them to these masterpieces.

Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall This book deals with the same essential plot as Love and Other Impossible Pursuits...well, without the adultery.

Gentlemen & Players by Joanne Harris I would have like this book MUCH more had I not guessed the huge secret in the first five minutes. The problem with writing suspense is that it RUINS you for other suspense novels. You're too in tune to how they are constructed, or something. I like being surprised, and I never am anymore.

Name all the Animals by Alison Smith This book is so damn sad. I just kept crying.

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult I read this book to see how it's done. Jodi sits happily on the best-seller lists. She writes a certain kind of book, and does it really well. I wanted to pick it apart and see its bones. See if there's a chance I could write something that would appeal in the way hers does. To as many people. I know, a pretty venal reason to read a book. What can I say?

Daniel Isn't Talking by Marti Leimbach There are a new spate of books out there about autism. I think this one will likely be one of the best. She knows of what she writes.

A Million Nightingales by Susan Straight Susan Straight now proves that she can master historical fiction with the same grace as contemporary. God, I love her writing.