Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Books I Read In 2005, Part I

Mr. Lincoln's Wars by Adam Braver: As a child, I had the biggest 'historical crush' on Lincoln (and FDR), so when I heard Braver speak at the LA Times Book Fair in 2004, I decided to pick up his book. It's a series of short stories that tell the story of the Civil War from a variety of viewpoints, and also give a very personal view of life from Lincoln's own eyes. I can't say I was enchanted--it's painful stuff--and I can't say I was transported, but I found it a fascinating concept, and I thought it very well done.

Nursery Crimes by Ayelet Waldman: I got onto a Waldman kick, spurred on by being loaned three or four of her books by my friend Tamar (who is no longer blogging, so I can't link to her, and that makes me awfully sad...). I have a lot in common with Waldman; we're the same age, both Jewish, both mothers, both writers, both dealing with bipolar disorder in some form or another. Plus, we have friends of friends in common. I even emailed her once or twice when she was still blogging, and she was kind enough to write back and was actually very helpful. None of which has anything to do with her books; I'm just rambling. The long and the short: Despite the fact that I simply don't read "detective stories" as a rule, I enjoyed all of these books. A lot. They're not supposed to be fodder for deep thoughts, but that doesn't mean they weren't fun.

Playdate with Death
by Ayelet Waldman: Did I mention that I enjoyed all of these books, a lot?

The Big Nap
by Ayelet Waldman: I did? Oh, well then you know how I felt about this one, too.

by Lizzie Simon: This was, for me, a detour from Waldman. I had included Lizzie Simon's book on her sort of bipolar disorder road trip in my book's 'further reading' appendix, but hadn't had time to read it myself. So I did. It was, um, well, highly disordered, not that I shouldn't have expected that from the title. And interesting in parts. But, well, I sort of felt like she wrote it too young. She still doesn't have a clue what's going on in her life, and what all of this has meant, and the book comes off as rambling, sad, and more than a little bit delusional. But, like I said, interesting. Not a waste of time, at all.

Death Gets a Time-Out
by Ayelet Waldman: Did I mention...? Fun.

There's no title here, but the next thing I read, at my LA-based brother-in-law's request, was his latest novel, which sadly has yet to sell, despite his having published several novels which have all been at least moderately successful. It's a tough business, I'll tell ya. And it's a shame, because this was another sweet story.

The Challenging Child
by Stanley Greenspan: A nonfiction book by the father of what is known as 'floortime' therapy. This was at the beginning of our realization that we needed to help N, but didn't quite know how to go about it. If you have a challenging or quirky child, this one's worth a look.

Death Plays House
by Ayelet Waldman: Yay. Back to the fun.

the curious incident of the dog in the night-time
by Mark Haddon: Eh. I wasn't as impressed as I thought I'd be. I don't have Asperger's syndrome, so it's kind of disingenuous of me to claim that Haddon doesn't quite get it right, but it just didn't feel genuine to me. And there were too many inconsistencies to get me to really buy into this character, and this story. Plus, I couldn't quite figure out what kind of story it was supposed to be. Overall, a disappointment.

Interpreter of Maladies
by Jhumpa Lahiri: Lahiri is brilliant. God, she's brilliant. I'm having a lot of trouble these days with the concept of the short story, because I think it highlights the trouble I'm having with literary fiction in general--the endings are almost always a disappointment to me--and there were a few of her stories where I moaned because the ending felt wrong, or too abrupt, or made me feel stupid, like I'd missed the whole point of the story, which I very well may have. But as a rule, these were just brilliantly done, with incredible, fully realized characters. They were painful, many of them, but in that exquisite way that makes you feel, but not mind, the pain. I was truly crazy about this book.

[Part II coming soon...]

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