Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Painted Veil

The Painted Veil by Somerset Maugham

Kitty Fane has married Walter so she can be married before her younger sister. But she doesn't love him. Walter is a bacteriologist who is vacationing from his work in Hong Kong. After their arrival, Kitty meets and falls in love with a diplomat. But Walter finds out about their affair and insists she accompany him to China where he is going to try to help with a cholera outbreak.

Kitty doesn't start out as a very sympathetic character. But as the book goes on you learn what motivates her. Very slowly she grows on you. "The Painted Veil" is a very easy book to read...flowing language and believable characters. I'd recommend it to everyone.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Dreamcatcher by Stephen King

Four lifelong friends are taking their annual hunting trip when a disoriented man stumble upon them. The stranger is in pretty poor condition, so he's taken to the cabn where strange thngs begin to happen. Stephen King strange.

This was a good book. 850 pages I read in 3 days (I had to go to work). King jumped from character to character, which would irk me but then I got involved in the current narrative. So within a couple of pages I was into that section so it was OK until he changed characters. It was a vicious circle.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Ironweed by William Kennedy
1984 Pulitzer Prize

Francis Phelan has blood on his hands. He killed a scab during a strike. Then he accidentally dropped his infant son and killed him. Then while living the hoboes life, he kills another bum in self-defense. Now he has returned to Albany with his girl-friend Helen, who is an alcholic as is he. He's trying to come to terms with his past. Helen is trying to self-destruct.

Ironweed is set in the back alleys and two bit dives that most people never see. It's about the way life can conquer some people before they even get started.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mrs. Dalloway

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

This book is one woman's inspection of her life. It's set in one day as Mrs. Dalloway prepares for a party. As she goes about her arrangements she ponders on the past and the future. It's a calm little book and well worth reading.

A lucid review at Time which named it one of the All Time 100 Novels.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Bleak House Ж Charles Dickins
Daniel Defoes Robinson Crusoe & Alexander Selkirk Ж Stu and Stevey Bruce
From the Corner of His Eye Ж Dean Koontz

Never on These Shores Ж Stephen R Pastore
Lonesome Dove Ж Larry McMurtry
The Magnificent Ambersons Ж Booth Tarkington
The Pilgrim's Progress Ж John Bunyan
Gulliver's Travels Ж Johnathan Swift
Playing for Pizza Ж John Grisham
Frankenstein Ж Mary Shelley

The Scarlet Letter Ж Nathaniel Hawthorne
Dr Jekyll Mr Hyde Ж Robert Louis Stevenson
The Search Ж Iris Johansen
Tess of the d'Urbervilles Ж Thomas Hardy
Notes on a Scandal Ж Zoë Heller
Killer Bodies Ж Michael Fleeman
Queen of the Slayers Ж Nancy Holder

Oliver Twist Ж Clarles Dickens
Pride and Prejudice Ж Jane Austin
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Ж Muriel Spark
So Big Ж Edna Ferber
The Ugly Duckling Ж Iris Johansen
Les Misérables Ж Victor Hugo
Angle of Repose Ж Wallace Stegner
Cold Mountain Ж Charles Frazier

Beloved Ж Toni Morrison
Hawaii Ж James A Michner
Jane Eyre Ж Charlotte Brontë
Uncle Tom's Cabin Ж Harriet Beecher Stowe

Madame Bovary Ж Gustave Flaubert
The Grapes of Wrath Ж John Steinbeck
Fahrenheit 451 Ж Ray Bradbury
Humboldt's Gift Ж Saul Bellow
The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao Ж Junot Díaz
The Life of Pi Ж Yann Martel
Arrowsmith Ж Sinclair Lewis
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler Ж E L Konigsberg
Up a Road Slowly Ж Irene Hunt
Gone With the Wind Ж Margaret Mitchell

The Poisonwood Bible Ж Barbara Kingsolver
East of Eden Ж John Steinbeck
The Power and the Glory Ж Graham Greene
Justine Ж Marquis de Sade
The Prince Ж Niccolò Machiavelli
Anna Karenina Ж Leo Tolstoy

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold Ж John le Carré
The Optimist's Daughter Ж Eudora Welty
Cell Ж Stephen King
The Hunchback of Notre Dame Ж Victor Hugo
Paradise Lost Ж John Milton
A Cold Day in Hell Ж Stella Cameron

Lord of the Flies Ж Willian Golding
Heart of Darkness Ж Joseph Conrad
The Regulators Ж Richard Bachman
Tree of Smoke Ж Denis Johnson

Mrs Dalloway Ж Virginia Wolfe
Ironweed Ж William Kennedy
Dreamcatcher Ж Stephen King

The Paintd Veil Ж W Somerset Maugham
The Handmaid's Tale Ж Margaret Atwood
A Summons to Memphis Ж Peter Taylor

The Invisible Man Ж H G Wells
American Pastoral Ж Philip Roth

A Summons to Memphis

A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor

1987 Pulitzer Prize

A Summons to Memphis tells the story of the Carver family. Dear old dad is about to get married again and his spinster sisters summon Philip home to help dissuade him from an action that could see all the family's old money being redistributed. Seems it was a common occurrence that the sisters were determined to avoid in their family. Memphis takes Philip down memory lane and leads him to reevaluate the past and the events that sprang out of it.

"A Summons to Memphis" is about Southern customs and traditions. It reminded me of Eudora Welty's "The Optimist's Daughter." I liked Daughter but I've found that as time goes on I remember it more and more fondly. I expect the same thing to happen with Memphis.

The B&N lucid review.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Prime New Years Resolution

A #1 this year: Spend No Money. I'm amazed at how much money I can go through. I spent hundreds of dollars on books alone last year. I just went to add more to LibraryThing and I was amazed to see just how many I haven't even read yet. I have more than enough to last me a year or two (or three) and I was checking through them thinking "I want to read that one next" several times. So the only ones I will buy this year will be for my book clubs or out of the library's honor room. At 50¢ or $1 apiece maybe it'll pacify my hunger for new books.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year


OK. It's a new year and I've made my resolutions. One of them is to begin this blog again. Things have been rough this year. Well, since the hurricane. It turned my job into a major headache. I work at a landfill and the amounts of debris brought in have been astounding. Three and a half months later the cleanup goes on. But it is easing up.

Then at the end of October my brother committed suicide. A delayed Gulf Storm casuality. I lost interest in everything for a while there. It's very traumatic for everyone who loved him. Confusion is reigning in my brain and there's something missing in my life that will never return. It's been two months now, but I still can't get a grip on it.