Thursday, August 26, 2004

Books...

I haven't given any reports on what I've been reading yet so hear goes...

White Teeth by Zadie Smith. I read a review of Smith's second book Autograph Man when it came out that described Smith as the second coming of Rushdie or Amis. I don't go out and buy brand new titles often and there was no way I was going to pay 25 bucks for a hardcover edition of this new author who I had never read. I forgot all about it until the last week of July when I was wandering around the local Border's looking for a few good titles to bring up to the lake. I picked up White Teeth because I'm always interested in first novels. I was sucked in from the start. An impressive first effort with a strong voice and engaging story. A plot description is damn near impossible with all the twists but I'll try and sum up for anyone interested. Two old war buddies and their families face trials and tribulations in 1980's London. There that wasn't so bad. If you do like Rushdie you would probably like Teeth. I know I did.

Among The Missing by Dan Chaon. This collection of short stories depressed me. As an aspiring writer good fiction inspires me to write, great fiction makes me feel as if I would never be able to do it as well. These stories showed me just how much work I need to do to write like this. It can be hard to find humor in a wife's sense of loss after her husbands death or the deteriorating relationship between mother and son, Chaon finds that line between sad and funny and walks it masterfully. "Safety Man" about a widow and the feelings she has for the blow-up dummy meant to scare away potential attackers. In "Big Me" a young boy is convinced that his future self has moved into his town and he feels a bit disappointed in what he sees. Every one of the twelve stories in this collection will make you feel something. And isn't that what great fiction is really meant to do?

I picked up Brown's Angels and Demons just because everyone around me has been reading it and the follow up and I like to talk about books as much as I like to read them. Its a pretty interesting read so far.

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