Just finished The Echo Maker by Richard Powers. “Powers’s smooth coincidences and cute patter can be unconvincing and leaden, and he has a tendency to lapse into distracting repetitions,” the New Yorker said. I couldn’t agree more. I really liked it until about half-way through when it started to get repetitious and annoying. I found myself skipping his highest literary flights about the damage man is doing to the environment. Polemic, unconvincing. Boring. And sister Karin was incredibly annoying. The adulterous affair between the neuroscientist and the mysterious nurse’s aide was also a head-scratcher. Huh?
A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion on the other hand. Can’t believe I’ve never read it, but there it is: I never had. It’s dated, of course. Parents dealing with children who’ve taken up arms in the revolution. Now we’re worried they’ll just dribble away on their iPods into puddles of conformity and materialism. Or at best be well-meaning but ineffectual liberals. But but but, Joan Didion gave me such a sense of rightness in her writing. Here is an author in total command of the craft. Absolute authority. Never a word wrong. My friend Susan once described a concert she went to where the lead soprano was so good she could just sit back, knowing she was in good hands, not worry and fret that she wasn’t going to hit those high notes. She could relax and enjoy the hell out of it. That’s the utter confidence this novel gave me. At the end, I have to say, I didn’t understand it but what the hell … it was a treat to read flawless fiction.
Also, really enjoyed Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Liked it more than Prep, but of course, though I originally thought they were similar, they weren’t. It became pretty far-fetched but then it was fabulism, so … Not Joan Didion though.
Here’s the latest list:
16. The Echo Maker, Richard Powers
15. A Book of Common Prayer, Joan Didion
14. Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl
13. Prep: A Novel, Curtis Sittenfeld
12. The Eiger Obsession: Facing the Mountain that Killed My Father, John Harlin III
11. Songs of the Humpbacked Whale, Jodi Piccoult
10. So Not the Drama, Paula Chase
9. The Fugitive Wife, Peter C. Brown
8. The Sea, John Banville
7. Looking for Alaska, John Green
6. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
5. The Night Journal, Elizabeth Crook
4. The Ice Queen, Alice Hoffman
3. Blood and Chocolate, Annette Curtis Klause
2. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman
1. The End, Lemony Snickett
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
3. Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban
2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
started but bogged down:
3. The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones
2. Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Susan Vreeland
1. The Children of Hurin, Christopher
Have started A Peace to End All Peace,
Still going on The Golden Bough.