Monday, July 23, 2012

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!

Good morning and a Happy Monday (insofar as that is possible) to you all. Your postcards and letters began arriving on Friday and I was over the moon. We've started a bulletin board to display them all (I'll take a picture soon and share), and it really started to get some attention. So Roxie from New York and Yakira from California? You made my day. Thank you.

Your letters, postcards and emails are really making a difference--we've had new patrons get cards, former patrons renew their cards, and some of our top readers join the contest. If everyone who has books checked out now reads and returns them, I've got a big challenge on my hands. If they really make an effort, I'm toast (which would be kind of awesome).

So stand up to the challenge I must, and this weekend I did so with a couple of very different books.

Up first was Alexandra Fuller's Don't Let's Go To the Dogs Tonight, Fuller's memoir of growing up in Rhodesia during the war where Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. It's unflinching and unsentimental in any way, but told with a well-developed sense of the absurd and a clear love for Africa that's absolutely compelling. Fuller does a fantastic job of getting inside her own childhood head and letting us experience things as she did, the amazing, the embarrassing, and the horrible. She shows us her family flaws and all, and we're richer for having met them.

Next came Busy Monsters by William Giraldi. I was intrigued by the description, which sounded amusing and contained giant squid, which is always a bonus. It is tremendously funny, with a great, ridiculous, looping plot, a main character who tends to mix fiction with fact and is prone to linguistic excess, and enough literary references and meta-moments to please the most jaded postmodernist. That said, I'm still not sure how much I like it. All of the things I just mentioned also serve to distance the reader from the experience of the characters and the story--you won't just fall into it and get swept away. I generally like to care a bit more about the characters and what's happening to them and spend a bit less time thinking about how clever the author is. Still, it was a quick read with some truly hilarious moments, and then there's the bonus points for the giant squid.

I'm currently reading Marlene Zuk's Sex on Six Legs, because I am a sucker for a title that makes me laugh.

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