The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
I lost count of how many people told me I needed to read The Help. "It's so good!" I heard, over and over and over. It's extremely popular at my library, so by the time I got on the hold list for it, I was 997th in line. Luckily, one of my co-workers had jumped on it much earlier, and let me read her copy once she was done with it. As it turns out, all those people who told me it's great were entirely correct. It's about black maids in the 60s and their complicated relationships with the white women and children they work for and again, it's super good. Go read it (if you can get your hands on it, that is.)
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter
Aaaand at the other end of the spectrum, there's this book about a cat. See, there was this library in Iowa in the 80s and times were bad, but the librarian found this cat who was really friendly and everyone in town really loved him and zzzzzzzzzzzzz. I read up to a little less than halfway through (it is, somehow, a 277-page book) and then gave up, so I can't tell you how he "touched the world." He sounds like a perfectly good cat, but . . . he was just a cat.
Committed: Confessions of a Fantasy Football Junkie, by Mark St. Amant
Speaking of writing a whole book about something there isn't all that much to say about, there's this one about some random dude's fantasy football season. I actually finished this one, despite the fact that the dude has a writing style that is both repetitive and derivative of Bill Simmons' (and since the guy is, like Simmons, from Boston, I refuse to believe that's a coincidence). It gave me some food for thought on what I'll try to do with my fantasy football team this upcoming season, though, and I guess that's good enough.
Silent in the Grave, by Deanna Raybourn
This was a MacKenzie recommendation, and I liked it. I know this is lazy, but now I'm going to copy-and-paste the review I wrote on Goodreads: This book is good enough that I want to read the next one in the series, but not good enough that I want to read the next one immediately. On the con side, Raybourn revisits a lot of Sherlock Holmesian cliches in her Nicholas Brisbane (but then, how can you write a male Victorian detective without ripping off Sherlock Holmes?) and I knew who the murderer was from, like, the scene where the-person-who-would-ultimately-revealed-as-the-murderer was introduced. Oh, and I didn't find the romantic stuff at all convincing. On the pro side, it's brisk, funny, and likable. Pretty good, I say.
The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family, by Dan Savage
As you know, I like Dan Savage, and as you also know, I am very pro-gay marriage. It is therefore unsurprising that I really enjoyed this book, which mixed the autobiographical tale of how Dan and his partner Terry decided whether to get married (one of the big factors: pressure to get married by Dan's mom) with Dan's cogent, common-sense arguments in favor of the legalization of gay marriage. It's very good (although I probably liked The Kid better).
Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
I saw the movie based on this book--in the theater, no less. I liked it, and I like Neil Gaiman (mostly because he co-wrote Good Omens with Terry Pratchett), so I plucked Stardust off the shelf at work on a whim. The first half is really good, better than the movie (because, as novels do, it gets to explain and explore more than a 90-minute film). But then the second half gets kind of weird--not weird in an obvious way (because it was already weird, what with witches and ships flying through clouds, an alternate reality, etc.) but in a structural way. The pace, instead of accelerating as it does in almost any other book, slows down--there are a few sequences of "and then a few weeks passed." (Now, here are some vague spoilers, so stop reading if you don't want the broad strokes of how the book ends.) And then there's no climax. It's a book with a hero, a damsel in distress, and a very evil villain, but the hero and villain never face off! The villain is just like, "I guess I failed. Welp, whaddaya gonna do?" And then the very end is sort of sad. The second half is, therefore, inferior to the movie (and shows why the screenwriter pretty much made up new stuff for the second half of the film). Now: I know some people would like this sort of convention-defying structure, but it didn't fly with me. Why am I going to all the work of reading the darn thing if there's no payoff? But then, on the other hand, I read it in like three hours, so "all the work" is overstating it by quite a bit.
In conclusion, I don't disrecommend it.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett