Wednesday, September 01, 2010
I liked Captain Saturday. I like Robert Inman. There were shades of Dairy Queen Days there but that’s okay. Just shades, not copycat.
From Publishers Weekly:
At once deeply affecting and warmly humorous, this fourth novel by Inman (Dairy Queen Days) faintly echoes the bittersweet inflections of such literary forebears as Flannery O'Connor. Peopled with vivid, endearingly quixotic characters and filled with dead-on insights into a shallow New South that defines itself by club memberships and designer labels, this richly textured epic is a paean to the vagaries of the human heart.
I have read most of Elizabeth Berg’s novels. I love her writing because of passages like this:
The fancy things I like are sheets. Pots and pans. And the things I really like aren’t fancy at all: old aprons and hankies. Butter wrappers from the one-pound blocks. Peony bushes, hardback books of poetry. And I like things less than that; the sticky remains at the bottom of the apple-crisp dish. The way cats sometimes run sideways. The presence of rainbows in a puddle of oil. Mayonnaise jars. Wash on a line. The tick-tock of clocks, the blue of the neon sign at the local movie house. The fact that there is a local movie house.
Open House is my favorite novel by her.
Samantha is abandoned by her husband in the opening pages of this three-handkerchief special, and the resultant tremors keep her off-balance for most of the novel...Sam begins to rebuild her life. She finds herself a job and takes in a couple of boarders to help meet her mortgage payments. She also starts dating, with disastrous results. Yet this comically kvetching heroine does manage to find love in the ruins, and by the time Open House winds down, it's hard not to believe that she's much better off.
The title sounds snooty, right? Some of the writing sounds that way, too, although if pressed, I’d have to admit that she’s right in every instance.
The author seems bewildered at the way American women seem to want to punish themselves with exercise and the way they often treat food as the enemy. Her approach is far more sensible and enjoyable. It’s nothing revolutionary – she encourages balance, lots of fresh food, enjoying treats now and then, and moderation.
However, the majority what’s in this book makes me happy, happy, happy. What the author stresses is enjoying food, that food should be a source of pleasure. That is a sentiment I can get behind.
From Amazon.com:“The message of this book could be a blessing or a curse, depending on your perspective. There is no hard science, no clearly-defined plan, and no lists of food to have or have not; instead, you'll find simple tricks that boil down to eating carefully prepared seasonal food, exercising more and refusing to think of food as something that inspires guilt. It's both a practical message and far easier said than done in today's "no pain, no gain" culture.”
I’ve seen A Girl Named Zippy for ages and for some reason, I think I had it confused with A Child Called It – or some other harrowing, heart-wrenching tale of a child treated badly. As a general rule, I don’t read those.
This is not harrowing; it’s hilarious.
Talking about an elderly preacher on TV Sunday mornings, interviewing a guest. The guest answers a question:
“I have always felt that...[there follows a pause so terrifying and extended that two corn crops fail]..."
Laugh out loud every time. I just did, reading it again.
In another chapter about someone named Rose of Sharon, a crafty sort who made hats from smashed soda cans held together with yarn, a purse from a plastic butter bowl, and whose house had “yards and yards of peach and pink lace attached to the bottom of everything that wasn’t moved.” Rose’s eyes bugged out. “My mom suggested it was probably caused from the shock and horror of waking up in that house every day.”
I’ll look for more by Haven Kimel.
I don’t read a whole lot of YA fiction, although I really liked the last one I read. I picked up Viola in Reel Life because I love Adriana Trigiani’s other books – the Big Stone Gap series, and the books about Valentine.
If I were fourteen, I'm sure I would have loved this book. I liked it well enough, I finished it (and there is something to be said for that; the next four books I tried, I put down about a chapter in).
I first heard about Simply from Scratch at The Divining Wand, where I learn about a lot of books.
I ordered it from my local bookstore and couldn't wait to get into it. I "saved" it and it was worth the wait. It's a sweet book that made me wish I lived in this town and could hang out with this group of friends.
"Newcomer Alicia Bessette has written a love-letter of a novel. There's enough warmth here to fill your house on the coldest night. You'll wish you knew these people, this world."
-Justin Cronin, author of The Passage
"An utterly charming read about love and loss and what makes people go on with their lives after tragedy. Ultimately uplifting. . . striking and evocative."
-Patricia Wood, author of Lottery
"Intricately plotted, peopled with quirky, small-town heroes that come alive on the page, Simply from Scratch is a wonderful debut. Without shirking from the pain of bereavement and without wallowing in sentimentality, it offers, as a counterbalance to life's sadness, the sweet taste of human connectedness and caring. Alicia Bessette's novel is tender and deft and full of heart, touched with good humor and compassion, a modern hymn to friendship and love."
-Roland Merullo, author of Breakfast with Buddha
Favorite Book of the Month: Open House by Elizabeth Berg. It's kind of like watching Sixteen Candles; I can say almost every line.
Character Who I'd Most Like to Have a Drink With: EJ from Simply from Scratch. The man owns a bakery!