Sunday Salon – November 15, 2009

Sunday Salon

November 15, 2009

Good morning everyone! Can you believe we are already half way through November? The days are flying by and already the holidays are upon us. I am not even close to being ready for them, but I am trying not to stress about it.

This past week I finished reading Looking After Pigeon by Maud Carol Markson (read my review) which I really appreciated for its depth and literary style. I have been a little surprised at the mixed reviews this lovely book has been getting and it got me thinking about why that might be. I think Americans (for the most part) gravitate toward books which are fast-paced and action-filled, or those which are “light” in style…books that don’t necessarily require a lot of thought, but tend to be quite entertaining. There is nothing wrong with that…I read and enjoy those kinds of books too. But every now and then I want a book that moves slowly, that stretches my comfort level or makes me think deeply about an issue. I like to pick up a book which is heavy with theme…one that creates emotion for me whether that be anger, or sadness or joy. And that is why I love literary fiction. Markson’s book deals with a tough subject (the neglect of a child), and there is little action. The “plot” takes place inside the mind of an adult looking back on her childhood – specifically one summer of her childhood. All the “action” is internal. I believe many readers don’t have the patience for this kind of story…and that makes me a little sad because I think there is a lot of great books out there being ignored. Looking After Pigeon was not a fast read for me. It took me awhile to read it. In fact, it took me a lot longer to read it then I thought it would. Not because it was torturous, but because it was making me think. What about you? Do you shy away from books like this? Or do you sometimes really want to “go deep” when it comes to your reading? By the way, if you are interested in this book, you might also want to check out the guest post by the author on my blog.

My current read is a chunkster which I MUST finish today in order to complete the Chunkster Challenge. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb is over 700 pages long and centers around the Columbine shootings in Littleton, Colorado. Lamb uses a fictional couple as his main characters, but also includes the actual victims of the shootings in his novel. I’ve read just over half of the book so far and am finding it engaging – although there have been moments when I thought it could have been more tightly edited and had less back story. And so far I am not loving the male protagonist (although I am willing to take the journey with him and see if he will change).  I don’t know if I will get it done by the end of the day….but we’ll see!

Have you seen all the fantastic events popping up around the holidays? There are several of which I am interesting in participating:

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As usual for this time of year, there are a ton of new challenges being posted for 2010. To see them all in one place, visit A Novel Challenge blog…I’ve tried to make it easy to view pending challenges, current challenges, perpetual challenges, and events. You are also more than welcome to join A Novel Challenge Yahoo group for the reading challenge addicted. Joining the group has some advantages including getting email reminders of start dates for challenges and events…as well as being eligible for prize giveaways.

What are you planning to do today? Whatever it is, I hope it involves a great book!

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    • Kathy on November 15, 2009 at 09:12

    I think you’re right about Americans taste in books, and it’s the same way for movies. Thanks so much for mentioning the Virtual Cookie Swap.

  1. I am refusing to stress over the holidays–or the fact that I haven’t even given serious thought to my gift shopping yet. I’ll have to soon though because I like to mail all the family gifts right after Thanksgiving. And Christmas cards? Think I may skip them this year. I just don’t have the energy these days.

    I understand what you are saying about going for the fast-paced, less thought provoking books. I find myself doing that often, I admit. It’s a shame really. I try to make an effort to break that cycle now and then, but probably not often enough.

    I’m rooting for you in these final hours of the Chunkster Challenge! I haven’t read The Hour I First Believed yet, but I do hope to. I really enjoyed two of the author’s other books.

    Have a great week, Wendy! Now to go see what all that noise is about in the bathroom. I think my youngest cat may be playing in the tub again.

    • Gavin on November 15, 2009 at 11:05

    I am adding “Looking After Pigeon” to my book to get from the library list, and I think you are right about some American readers. I think that is one of the reasons blogging about books is important. It is an opportunity to introduce books like “Pigeon” to a larger audience. Thanks, Wendy!

    • kailana on November 15, 2009 at 13:59

    I don’t even want to think about the month being half over. I lost my job and haven’t found another one, so it is not going to be great holidays until I find another one!

    Also, don’t forget the Virtual Advent! Are you joining in this year? Sign-ups started today. 🙂

    • Staci on November 15, 2009 at 15:37

    I would love to give this book a try. I just have to be in the right frame of mind for something like this.

    All the fun activities are awesome arent’ they!! 🙂

    • JoAnn on November 15, 2009 at 18:57

    We spent the day at my daughter’s college basketball season opener. I loved Wally Lamb’s new book, but agree it could have used a little more editing. Read today that he has a new Christmas book just out…

    • Vasilly on November 15, 2009 at 19:27

    I know for me I don’t read books that make me slow down because of blogging. Though I don’t review often, I feel the pressure to read slower books so I have something to review. Have you read Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson? It’s definitely a book that you have to slow down and take in. Have a great week.

  2. Did you end up finishing The Hour I First Believed in the end? I started it when it first came out but made very little progress.

    • Wendy on November 20, 2009 at 09:00

    Kathy: Yup – movies as well as books…Americans like them fast, plot based and exciting!

    WendyCat: I’ve skipped Christmas cards the last two years…not only is it very expensive, but I just seem to run out of time. I laughed when I read your last paragraph about the cat in the tub! Argus is our tub boy (although now Raven also enjoys it!)

    Gavin: I hope you’ll enjoy Looking After Pigeon as I did…I agree about blogging books – there have been so many books (and authors) I would not have tried (and loved) had it not been for my blogging friends.

    Kailana: I am so sorry you lost your job 🙁 Hopefully, you have found another one by now. Re: Virtual advent…I completely missed that! Thanks for the reminder to get it posted!!! I am not sure about participating this year…I think I am once again overextending myself (oh dear!). BUT, even if I don’t post, I’ll be reading others’ posts!!!

    Staci: I love seeing all the holiday events popping up…gets me in the spirit 🙂

    JoAnn: I saw that Lamb had a Christmas book out…not sure I’ll be reading it. I am posting my review of his latest novel today…I had mixed feelings about it.

    Vasilly: I haven’t read Housekeeping…I did read Robinson’s book Gilead…and didn’t like it. I never related to her main character. But, I agree, her books definitely fall into the “thoughtful” and “slow reading” category!

    Michelle: Yup, I finished it…watch for my review today….it wasn’t my favorite book of the year!

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