asher63 (asher63) wrote,

Books update

Here is a quickie about what I am reading, have recently read, and intend to read in the near future.

I'm past the halfway mark in Epitaph: A Novel of the OK Corral, by Mary Doria Russell. I am enjoying it tremendously. The historical and local details are vivid and fascinating, the characters are rich and fully realized. It is very much an 'ensemble' story, not dominated by any one or two characters. I'm following along in the book while listening to the Audible production, voiced by Hillary Huber, which is excellent. I enjoy hearing a really good voice artist at work, and this is top-notch. Huber does a wonderful job of shading the voices of the various men and women characters, along with their accents - Western, Southern, Yiddish, Hungarian - and keeps the narration lively and engaging. I'm hoping to write a full review when I've finished.

Last summer I set myself a goal of reading all eleven of Toni Morrison's novels to date, in order - and I did. It was well worth the time. I then went back and wrote reviews of the first three - 'The Bluest Eye', 'Sula', and 'Song of Solomon' - and this year I'm hoping to pick up where I left off, with TM's fourth novel, 'Tar Baby'. The book is a departure for TM in terms of setting and subject matter, and I think it's one of her most interesting. (It is her first - and to date, only - novel to be set primarily outside of the mainland United States, and in a fictional location. It's also her first, though by no means her last, novel include significant nonblack characters. And it's unique in some other ways, I think, which I'll write about when I get to the review.) I am almost tempted to skip 'Beloved', which I think is wonderful but is almost kind of larger-than-life, having been made into a film and being one of TM's more successful books. I'm eager to get to her lesser-known recent works, 'Jazz', 'Paradise', and 'Love'. And then there's 'A Mercy' - wow; and 'Home' (TM returns to one of her favorite themes - veterans); and 'God Help the Child' (set in our present day). So, there's lots of ground to cover and I'm excited to get started.

I recently finished 'The Hours' by Michael Cunningham. The film it inspired is one of my all-time favorites, and I gained a deeper appreciation of the filmmaker's art after reading the novel - which I also loved. Cunningham's book is short, for a novel, but very heavy on character exposition and internal dialog, and it's a real treat to see how paragraphs or pages of a character's internal world can be captured in a line of spoken dialog or a gesture or facial expression. The Cunningham novel (itself inspired by Virginia Woolf's 'Mrs. Dalloway') captures the lives of characters in their respective timelines during three periods in the Twentieth Century: the historical Virginia Woolf herself, writing in England in the 1920s; Laura, an American housewife of the 1950s (and mother to a boy named Richie); and the modern characters of Clarissa and Richard in fin-de-XXe-siecle New York, who seem to be reincarnations of, respectively, Mrs. Dalloway and Virginian Woolf herself. The novel also naturally includes aspects of the story that were omitted from the film - I hope to explore the choices the film made when I do a write-up of the book (and film) here on LJ in the near future. (One aspect of the novel, I noticed, became a sort of "inside joke" in the film.) Meanwhile, you can read what I wrote about 'The Hours', which I reviewed together with 'The Matrix', here.

Lastly, when my schedule settles down a bit, I hope to be able to devote some time to a proper appreciation of the amazing Gene Wolfe. We'll have to wait and see.
Tags: books, drama, film, science fiction, toni morrison, voice

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