Saturday, October 27, 2007

Daughters of the North, Sarah Hall

In a place where nature has proven herself more brutal than mankind and also more forgiving, 65 women forged a life close to the earth while the rest of humankind was walled off from the effects of living large upon the earth for too long. "Sister" got tired of living packed in concrete like sardines, implanted by law with a contraceptive device, factory work building machines went unused: all for a totalitarian government off fighting a coalition's war. Disappearing to the women's enclave of Carhullan she longs to find the life of her dreams, only to discover that dreams can be nightmares and what we fear can be precisely what we need. Sarah Hall has written a tract of the rawest forms of feminism: grace and passion blended with violent animalism. Unsentimental, yet gentle; sensual, yet tough and unafraid -- Daughters of the North is a must-read for every woman.

Published under the title The Carhullan Army in Britain, Sarah Hall's latest novel is slated for publication here in the states in April of 2008. But start screaming for it now. And if you can do it, order a copy from overseas, have it shipped to your door and read it before it even hits the printing presses here. It's worth it.

Synopses and British Reviews:
Twisted Sisters, Guardian Unlimited
The Book Bag
The List's Books Blog

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Out Stealing Horses, Per Petterson

This one left me speechless, gaping like a fish to find the right words of devotion to this exquisite, beautiful novel. I've been working for weeks to write up a proper review, but it isn't working. And to think, I posted about my favorite novels of late only a week before completing one that must be added to the list. I promise to find better, more accurate words of love for this remarkable, special novel that deserves a cult following into the classics.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Favorite Recent Novels

I'm not the biggest fan of fiction and always have trouble finding novels that appeal to me enough to finish reading or otherwise leave a lasting impression. Here is a list, in no particular order, of my top favorite novels of the last two years:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Five Skies by Ron Carlson
Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
Smonk by Tom Franklin
Coal Black Horse by Robert Olmstead
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
God of Animals by Aryn Kyle

Gone Too Long

Personal Note: Sorry for the long absence. I departed for the summer and since coming home I have been, simply put, lazing around the house re-adjusting to normal life. As a jump back into posting snippets and reviews and thoughts, a short and sweet post will follow this one. Ta!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Written Nerd's Two Cents

Written Nerd has a great post about the pros and cons of bloggers writing book reviews. Not an attack upon or critical of print book reviews, WN notes the greatest perk of blogged book reviews over print reviews:

Blogs, on the other hand, have the benefits that come from no filter: their passion for or against a book, or their complex thoughts about it, are subject to no one's editing but their own. Most of the litblogs whose reviews are worth reading know more or less what they like and don't tend to write reviews hoping for another free book or a mention in the publisher's catalog. There's no reason for them to write unless they want to, and there's no reason for anyone to read them unless they like what they're writing. That can make for some crazies or duds, but it can also make for some powerful and impassioned writing and some creative ways of talking about books that can't happen in the slower-moving systems of an institution.

My Two Cents on Book Reviews, Written Nerd, 05 May 2007

Of course, the down side is the commercial marketing of blogs with advertising from publishers and Amazon, which may or may not skew a blog in any specific direction. When a LitBlog becomes popular enough, however, the writers/editors can gain the attention of authors and earn clout to post interviews, author penned essays, etc. which are a huge bonus to any blog's readers. Ultimately it depends on the blog writer's goal. That initial goal may morph over time, but I agree with WN that the best blogs are ones focusing on what its writer knows and loves, then writes about it. It's like handselling a book or chatting with a good friend who you know will always give you exactly what you will love to read.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Five Skies, Ron Carlson

One Idaho summer envelops the lives of three men in her broad skies, flat plains, high plateaus and dramatic silences. It is one season in the lives of the huge, silent Arthur Key; the internally raging Darwin Gallegos; and the ex-criminal but earnest young pupil Ronnie Panelli. They bond in the steely, emotionless, simple ways that men do, as they work on a contracted big-money building project in the middle of nowhere. All three men come from harsh, but not dissimilar places in life and get to know each other over dirt, plans, tools, hard work and coffee.

It is an oh-so-quiet novel loaded with a building intensity that makes like a slow-moving summer thunderstorm bound for a spectacular, wrenching finish. Ron Carlson has brought us a strong, beautiful novel of love, hope, and just doing what comes next.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

R.I.P. Kurt Vonnegut

Literary legend Kurt Vonnegut has died at 84 years old. There comes a time when great authors will all leave us, but it is always a sad day and fills us with great loss.

Two great pieces:

KURT VONNEGUT: 1922-2007
Darkly comic novelist a counterculture hero

San Francisco Chronicle

Novelist Vonnegut Remembered for His Black Humor

Writer Kurt Vonnegut dies at 84
BBC News

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Writers Rooms

Ever wanted to take a peek into the offices/writing spaces of beloved authors? Check out the UK Guardian's page featuring various writers' rooms with commentary by each author. I am a little surprised at how neat nearly all of them seem to be, but it could be they just tidied up before the photographer came.