So now I’m reading several things, can’t get swept away. Right now I’m sleeping with A Peace to End All Peace, by David Fromkin, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie, and The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien. The latter two are wonderful, wonderful, but so intense I can’t read them in blissful abandon.
Did devour like Cheetos two books last weekend, one a night. Summer People by Brian Groh, and Riding Lessons, by Sara Gruen. But they weren’t great books. Why I wonder? Summer People I had great hopes for since it’s about a guy who goes to take care of an old lady at her summer place in Maine. I thought it would take me back to my days in Maine among wealthy summer people. But the main character was annoying and the old lady he takes care of was totally undeveloped. So it was episodic, occasionally somewhat entertaining, and unsatisfying. But one amazing thing, he has his characters say, “Yeah, no,…blah blah,” a lot and I realize that everyone does indeed say this. Everybody, my new supervisor, Mica Brezinksy, people on the train. Wow! A revelation indeed.
And damn, I was SO disappointed by Riding Lessons. Water for Elephants is one of my all-time favorite books and I can’t believe Sara Gruen leaped from Riding Lessons to Elephants in one jump. That’s certainly heartening for all of us struggling novelists. Part of the problem with RL was the pedestrian plot. Part was using first person present tense, which was often clunky and snapped you out of the narrative. But the main problem was the main character who never gelled for me. First she’s a World Cup eventer. OK, I love this. I’m a horse person and once judged a crosscountry jump at a 3-day event. Then she’s hurt and when we see her next she’s a high-powered IT person. Then turns out before going back to work she was an obsessive suburban housewife creating the perfect home. Then she goes home to her parents’ horse place in Vermont and she’s a bad, angry daughter and mother, and a business slob, and then a ditzy broad who dresses up and tries to cook something fancy and burns her beau’s kitchen down, … damn, what next? Who the fuck is she? My head’s all spinning. Mary Stewart knew how to do this kind of story.
Anyway, maybe I’ll reread Water for Elephants.
2. Riding Lessons, Sara Gruen
1. Summer People, Brian Groh
2. Captain Salt in Oz, Ruth Plumly Thompson
1. Earth Abides, George R. Stewart