Sunday 29 September 2013

Last post for September...

On this cool, sunny Sunday morning, as I sip my steaming cup of chai and anticipate the freshly-baked Banana Bread that should be out of the oven soon, I’m thinking about what I’ve been reading and what I’m going to read next, as I usually do each week at this time.

I decided last week, after my post, to read Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote.  I have read this novella before, and of course seen the movie with Audrey Hepburn.  There is a story behind my choosing this to read.  My next book club selection is In Cold Blood, also by Capote, the true crime account of the murder of the Clutter family on their farm in Kansas in November, 1959 by two men, Richard “Dick” Hickock and Perry Smith.  As is my tendency when selecting books for the book club, I select a book for October that is sort of “seasonal”, as in a mystery or a ghost story with Hallowe’en in mind, or one year, when my husband and I went to Algonquin Park for a few days, I selected Canoe Lake by Roy MacGregor, a novel about the mystery surrounding painter Tom Thomson’s death.  I also try to select one non-fiction title for my group to read, which can sometimes be difficult, as we are mainly fiction readers, and some non-fiction is not as easy to read as a novel.  Anyway, one of my members, a retired high school English teacher, read In Cold Blood when one of her students selected it for an independent study project, and she was reluctant to reread it for our meeting.  She told me that she wouldn’t be joining us for our October meeting for that reason, and I suggested that she could choose another true crime book to read and discuss.  That wasn’t something she wanted to do, so I suggested reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s as it is by the same author, and the other work for which Capote is most well-known.  I don’t know if she will come to the meeting or read this novella, but I felt that, since it is so short and easy to read, it would be a good idea to reread it so someone else in the group would be familiar with the story in case she decides to join us.  This novella, published in 1958, tells the story of a writer who recounts the experiences he had in his first apartment in New York in 1943, when he befriended another tenant in the building, Holly Golightly, a young country girl-turned-society woman who shies away from owning or belonging to anything, always on the search for the richest man she can find.  She goes every Thursday to visit Salvatore “Sally” Tomato in Sing Sing, where she receives a “weather report” which she must convey to another man before receiving payment for her visit.  This in the end is her undoing, as she is arrested for aiding a racketeer.  The narrator, an unnamed writer whom Holly calls “Fred” because he reminds her of her brother Fred, becomes fascinated by Holly and her lifestyle, and falls a little bit in love with her as she remains unattainable.  The character of Holly Golightly has become an American icon, and I would certainly recommend that everyone should read this short novel if only to understand the cultural references that are made to this story even today.  I’m also half-way through In Cold Blood, which I hope to finish today or tomorrow.  I will talk about that more next week, after the meeting.

I also listened to an audio book by Harlan Coben last week, Hold Tight, which I was sure I’d listened to before, but it turned out that it was a new listening experience for me.  It begins with the brutal murder of a woman outside a bar by a couple in an unmarked white van (why is it always an unmarked white van?).  It then moves to the decision by a high school boy’s parents to install spying software on their son’s computer in an effort to monitor his online activities, as he’s been acting strangely since his best friend committed suicide a few months before.  When their son disappears, they start a search that leads to underage clubs and the discovery of “pharm parties”.  When another woman goes missing, the story becomes more complex as the reader is led into a web of criminal activity.  Sometimes I enjoy these types of novels to listen to, as I don’t have to pay much attention to the language or the details, always a consideration when listening to a book rather than reading it and seeing the words on the page.  In fact, I just recently listened to the “Andy Carpenter” novel, the “Kurt Wallander” novel and the “Peter Diamond” novel.  All of these are mysteries, though they are not really thrillers.  I have enjoyed reading novels by Harlan Coben in the past, which started many years ago with his “Myron Bolitar” series, featuring Bolitar as a former sports agent-turned amateur detective.  He has moved on to write many complex stand-alone thrillers, one of which was made into a French film, “Tell No One”, and which was both an excellent book and a great film.  This one, however, was not a great listening experience for me, and I’m not sure if the story and writing were at fault, or if it was mainly down to the narrator, who read in such an expressive and over-the-top dramatic way that it totally ruined the book for me.  I guess I’ll never know, as I will be unlikely to read this book again in its physical form.  But, like all good train wrecks, once I got into the story, I couldn’t stop listening and sped through to the very end, which was fairly unsatisfying.  I hope this doesn’t put potential readers off Coben’s books (he's a bestselling author, so I'm not really too worried).  I really enjoyed reading and listening to other novels of his, such as The Woods and Promise Me.  This one, unfortunately, just didn’t live up to my expectations.

So I was planning to read a review book next, once I finish Capote’s book, but I just found out that Wayne Johnston’s newest novel, The Son of a Certain Woman has come in for me.  What a dilemma… I really want to read Johnston’s novel, but I don’t actually have it yet.  I should read a review book, and I will, but Johnston’s novel has the appeal of not only being a title of personal interest, it can also double as a committee title.  I think Johnston’s novel will be the winner in this decision;  the review book can wait until next week.

Time for Banana Bread and reading.  Enjoy the Indian Summer weather we’re having!

Bye for now…

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