Friday, November 23, 2012

Down the Home Stretch - Books 48-50

Coming down the home stretch now! And still selecting the thinnest books on my shelf in order to finish the challenge by the end of the year, though there’s really no doubt in my mind at this point.

Are You Somebody? By Nuala O’Faolain
If I hadn’t had a goal to meet, I probably wouldn’t have finished this book. Subtitled “The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman,” it sounded like it might be interesting to read about this middle-aged columnist and how she overcame the barriers faced by women in the 60s to become a successful writer. And there was some good stuff about how family, religion and culture challenged and shaped her. However, for the most part I found the book full of gratuitous name dropping of presumably important literary and art-world figures, and cultural references that went over my head. I’m not sure if I felt dumber about not understanding the allusions or about being obsessive enough to continue reading this book to the bloody end.

Perfume by Patrick Suskind
This book totally made up for my displeasure over the previous one. I can’t even begin to explain how unusual the premise is and how adept the author is at describing the main character’s extraordinary proclivity toward all things olfactory. This was one of the most original books I’ve read in a long time, and I’ve already added the movie (2006 starring Dustin Hoffman) to my Netflix queue. Not sure how I missed that one, but if it’s anything like the book, I’m sure it will be quite a ride! I will say no more … just read this book!

Patrimony by Philip Roth
Sometimes sad, sometimes whimsical but always from the heart, this story of a son and his father during the elder man’s final illness is a touching story of devotion. By the time the book reaches its inevitable conclusion, you really feel like you know the feisty, clever, tradition-bound man who has now become a shell of himself through the ravages of illness. If you have ever experienced the paradoxical joy and sorrow of caring for an elderly parent, you will relate to this story.

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