Thursday, 4 August 2011

Book thoughts on a Thursday evening...

Wow, I hardly ever write in the evening - it seems so different than writing in the morning.  Although I'm steeping my chai tea even as I write, somehow writing and drinking tea in the morning holds anticipation and expectation for the day ahead, while partaking of these activities in the evening carries with it the sense of winding down.  Even my kitties are sleeping!

I finished The Slap a couple of days ago, and it was as I expected, not really uplifting, but interesting, complex and intriguing.  A book like this really makes you think about your actions, and the effects your actions and decisions may have on your own life and the lives of others, intentional or not.  I mentioned in my last blog entry that I have read other books that present these types of situations but could not remember any titles offhand.  Well, I have a couple of titles that I've read within the past year that offer this type of situation.  The Memory-Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards is one of these novels.  The decision of the husband regarding his children has long-term effects on his own life, the lives of his family members, and others, often in unexpected ways.  A Perfect Night To Go To China by David Gilmour is another title where one action sets in motion a string of events that touch the lives of all those involved.  On the lighter side, Happiness by Will Ferguson offers this type of story but the effects of the action or decision are presented in a more comical way.  All very interesting reads, ones that make you think, "If only he or she had done this instead of that."  But getting back to The Slap, the novel was written in a way that presented the setting and the event in the first chapter, then devoted a chapter to individual characters to tell their stories, and these usually presented enough background information that the reader could then understand the characters' actions or responses to the actions of others.  I didn't always understand why one character was given a chapter but another, who seemed much more significant to the story, was excluded.  It was a difficult (as in intimate, emotional, and complex) book to read, and I imagine it was more difficult to write.  I don't think it was perfect, but it certainly tackled difficult subjects (child abuse and tolerance to violence in society, alcoholism and drug use, and adultery) and presented a broad range of three-dimensional characters in a successful, realistic way.  Kudos to Chris Tsiolkas for being brave enough to write this book.

I'm listening to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None as an audiobook, and as always, I'm enjoying the detail and complexity of her cozy mysteries.  I've listened to a few of her mysteries, The Body in the Library, The Mystery of the Blue Train and The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and I've read a few titles, too.  But I think I will try to read more of her novels and to find out about her personal and literary life.  I'm already thinking about putting together a list of book club selections for next year, and I'm going to suggest for our October 2012 book club meeting that we each read a different mystery and tell the group about it.  I like to choose something sort of scary or suspenseful for October, being close to Hallowe'en.  In the past we've discussed a Minette Walters mystery, Canoe Lake by Roy MacGregor (I had just been to Algonquin Park for vacation) and Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale.  I hope the suggestion to read novels by the "Queen of Crime" will be met with enthusiasm.

That's all for tonight.

Bye for now!
Julie

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