Want to hear about some books I’ve read?
- Solar, by Ian McEwan: I found this book on the used-for-sale shelf at our local library and decided to chance a quarter on a writer I’ve had good luck with before. This didn’t measure up to Saturday or Atonement, the other two McEwan books I’ve read, but then, that’s setting a pretty high bar. Essentially, this book combines many strands: meditations on masculinity and aging, satire, and reflecting on moral dilemmas like whether our actions define us, or what terrible things would we do if we knew we wouldn’t get caught. It was a good poolside read, and unlike other reviewers, apparently, I was not offended by the satire on climate change (I’m not generally offended by satire).
- The Marriage Plot: A Novel: This is a book I’ve wanted to read for months, after the storm of reviews and accompanying articles on the real life drama that may or may not have inspired the book and certain characters in it. However, I am very glad that I read it after the furor had died down, because while I enjoyed all the tidbits of literary gossip, I’m not sure I would have been able to separate the novel from the gossip, and that would have been a shame. I really enjoyed The Marriage Plot, which takes place primarily at Brown University in the 1980s and particularly in the first explosion of semiotics in the academy. As someone with a graduate degree in cultural studies, I really enjoyed this aspect of the book, and the half-mocking, half-respectful tone towards French literary theory and everything that comes with it. I also enjoyed the book for being a straight-ahead novel–not an experiment with the form or a metafictional “romp” or anything else, but a lovely and interesting novel that made me tear up and laugh. But in doing so, it also managed to make me think more deeply about themes like romantic love, marriage, friendship and spirituality, just as a good novel can (and should).
- The Night Circus: I am definitely the kind of person who tells you to read the book before you see the movie, the kind of person who gets irrationally upset when filmmakers change aspects of beloved books, but even for a curmudgeon like me, there are some books that just seem destined for the big screen, and this is one of them. Erin Morgenstern‘s first novel is full of vivid and gorgeous imagery just begging to be realized, and I’m looking forward to seeing the circus come to life. The night circus travels the world and only opens at night, and while there are acrobats and animals, the black-and-white striped tents also hold dreamlike visions and otherworldly experiences. There are some great parts for men and women alike in the story of two magicians battling with each other through their students, who happen to fall in love along the way. A lot of the reviews of this book connected it to Harry Potter, but apart from the presence of magic, I don’t see much of a link at all. That doesn’t detract from The Night Circus for me, but it is kind of puzzling. This was a great read, and I can see why it probably has made a great book club choice, especially if you got really into the spirit of decorating, costumes and food featured in the book.
- The Night Circus (artonthepage.blogspot.com)