July 24, 2011
Welcome to this week’s edition of Sunday Salon. Put your feet up, grab a cup of coffee (or your beverage of choice) and get ready to chat about books!
July has been a rather slow reading month for me because my work schedule got a bit crazy. I missed last week’s Salon because I was visiting friends in Marin County – we had gorgeous weather, awesome food, and fantastic conversation while my friend Carol’s dog, Leah, and Raven ran their brains out and wrestled nearly nonstop.
They did occasionally take a break to renew their energy…
But, I digress…books, that’s what you’re here for, right?
Since my last Salon, I’ve finished reading a couple more books for Orange July. Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch had a lot of potential but didn’t blow me away as I hoped it would (read my review). This is definitely not light reading. Birch does not spare her readers any of the horror of being shipwrecked, and much of the latter part of the book contains graphic imagery which I did not really enjoy. That said, the characters in Jamrach’s Menagerie are original and memorable, and Birch is skilled at describing setting. It really was a mixed bag for me.
My third Orange book for the month, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin, was also a bit of a mixed bag (read my review). I was disappointed that the character development of the women in this novel was not deeper, and yet the story itself interested me and kept me turning the pages. Shoneyin surprised me with the character of Baba Segi – a rather unlikable man for the first part of the book who grows into someone with whom I began to empathize as the story progresses. Ultimately, despite some of its weaknesses, I decided this was a good book which I could recommend to readers who enjoy literary fiction set in Africa.
I blew through Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy – a book which I was thrilled to snag as part of a TLC Book Tour. You might remember that I’ve read and loved Van Booy’s short stories, and I was curious as to whether he could carry off a novel. I was definitely NOT disappointed with Van Booy’s first effort. I have a lot to say about this one – and my review goes up July 26th. In the meantime, what I will tell you is that this meditative novel about the power of love, grief, and connection to others is original, beautifully constructed, and highly recommended! As part of my tour of the book, Simon Van Booy will be featured as a guest poster here on Caribousmom…and I hope you’ll come back to read on July 26th to read his thoughts.
My current read is The Reservoir by John Milliken Thompson which I am reading as part of BOOK CLUB. A discussion of this book will take place over on Jen’s blog on July 26th. I hope you’ll consider joining us. Based on a true story, this novel is slow to get to the action. I’m not quite 100 pages in and much of the narrative is setting the stage and introducing the characters to this point. Out of curiosity, I glanced at a few reviews of the book and found that many readers are commenting on the slow start, but say that the book becomes more compelling as it moves forward. So I am hoping that eventually, this will become a book I don’t want to put down! Watch for a review by Tuesday or Wednesday.
Although the month is fast coming to a close, I am still hoping to read at least two more books for Orange July. The most probable reads will be The Long Song by Andrea Levy and Scottsboro by Ellen Feldman. If I really hunker down, I might even get to Swamplandia! by Karen Russell this month, too. We’ll see…
Today promises to be a beautiful day up here in the Northern California mountains. The sun is shining, there is a light breeze and I can hear the cows in the fields below us mooing (I love that sound in the morning). I am planning to work on some quilt blocks later today, and I will definitely find some time on the porch to read. What about you? What is on your agenda? Whatever you are planning, I hope at some point it involves a great book!