Book Reviews

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Blue Moon Over Thurman Street
by Ursula K. Le Guin

This unique project combines photographs by Roger Dorband of Thurman Street in Portland, OR, and the poetry that they inspired Le Guin to write. The goal was to chronicle the people and places of the street. It was a really interesting project, but neither the poetry, nor the photos were particularly moving to me. I did enjoy the additional comments from the collaborators about each photo/poem at the end of the book. I'm traveling to Portland later this year and so I'm glad I read it. It was a glimpse into the city I'm so excited to see.
Beyond our understanding is the changing form of that tree; we do not know its beginning, or its ending, or its roots. - Quoted in Blue Moon

Matchless: A Christmas Story

by Gregory Maguire


Maguire weaves the original Match Girl story in with a new one of his creation. A poor boy named Frederik lives alone with his mother. Their lives cross with the Match Girl's and it changes their future. It's a sweet Christmas tale, but it lacks the depth and dark twists that have made the author so famous.

A Reliable Wife
by Robert Goolrick

Ralph is a wealthy middle-aged man living in Wisconsin in 1907. He lived a lazy, opulent youth, gallivanting around Europe on his father's dime. He married a spoiled Italian girl before moving home. After she broke his heart he lived alone for years before deciding to write an advertisement for a wife. Catherine answers the ad and meets him in Wisconsin. She's not what she seems and her secrets run deeper than Ralph could fathom.
This book seemed to revolve around sex, being obsessed with it, thinking it was evil, etc. I wish that there had been a lot less of that and a lot more focus on the deception and secrets. It made it seem far too harlequin for my taste, all heaving bosoms and lustful glances. I can understand a bit of that, but not the whole book. The writing and story were both pretty good, but the rest was just far too distracting from the real plot. I was interested in the story, but tired quickly of the sex and lost interest. By the end I didn't really care what happened to any of the characters. I thought they all deserved each other.

The Whore's Child and Other Stories
by Richard Russo

I've always loved Russo's style of writing. He has a way of describing people so intimately that you can see them there in front of you, flaws and all. This is my first taste of his short stories and they are exceptionally good. The title story, The Whore's Child, is about a nun's foray into a writing workshop and her attempt at a memoir. It was simple and did exactly what a great short story should do, give you a glimpse at a few characters and leave you wishing you knew just a bit more about them. Russo writes about a young boy's cross-country road trip with his mother, a man struggling to come to terms with the discovery of his wife's lover, a married couple who are haunted by the decisions of their youth and more. I loved the book as a whole and was left wishing for more stories from the author.


Anonymous said...

I had never heard of this particular Russo book before. Then again, I've never read Russo, but meaning to. All the bloggers whose tastes I trust love him. :)

Hannah Stoneham said...

Shame that you did not enjoy A Reliable Wife that much - it sound slike quite an interesting tale.

Thanks for sharing

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

kissacloud - Read Russo immediately! Empire Falls is my favorite.

Hannah - I was bummed too. I thought it was going to be really good.

Anonymous said...

I will, I promise! That's the one I wanted to read first, too. :)

mee said...

Oh I'm the same with kissacloud, I've never tried Russo before and would like to. I have A Reliable Wife on my shelf and I know it has got mixed reviews, but I'm still curious. Matchless caught my attention a while back, but sounds like it's skip-able.