Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Project 40: May/June


“The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd
I think my grandma must have given me this book to read a couple of years ago, because it has her name in it. A teenage girl, Lily, runs away from her abusive father with the family’s black housemaid, Rosaleen, after Rosaleen gets thrown in jail for trying to register to vote in Georgia in 1964. They run to a bee farm run by three black sisters in South Carolina, following Lily’s hopes of learning more about her deceased mother. It’s a great story with a lot of heart, but not written with a real mushy, sentimental tone. It was enjoyable to read. A


“Light in August” by William Faulkner

I followed up a book set in the South with another. I’d read Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying” and loved it, so I had high expectations for this book. Conclusion? The book was entirely too long. If it had been about 100 pages shorter, maybe I would have liked it more, but because the author jumped around so much in time with lengthy and (I felt) pointless histories of each peripheral character, I got worn out by the end. It started out great, but dragged by the middle. C+

“The God of Small Things” by Arundati Roy
This was the second time that I read this. The first time was my sophomore year of college in an honors lit class. I liked it then, and I ran out of books to read at my parents house, so I started it again. It's probably one of my favorites, just because the language is so great. The story is set in India and follows the Kochamma family, especially the fraternal twins Rahel and Estha and their mother. There are a lot of Indian caste politics involved, as well as dysfunctional family dynamics. I think what I like most is that the kids play with language, spelling words backwards and reconfiguring them the way they actually hear them, like singing "Rejoice in the Lord Or-rol-ways" A+

"Doomsday Book" by Connie Willis
I was supposed to have read this book for a class on historical fiction. Yeah, I never did that. It's a pretty good book, although the pacing sometimes gets a little boring. The story jumps from the 21st century, where Oxford historians send students back in time for research, to the 14th century, where one such student has been "dropped" during Christmas. The first third of the book is kind of frustrating because Kivrin, the student, can't understand the contemps she meets because of a malfunction in her translator, and it gets old. Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, a mystery disease is complicating EVERYTHING! Other than that, it's a pretty interesting and intense book. I'm a big fan of stuff about time travel, even if it's just to one place and time. B+

"Buddha, Volume One: Kapilavatsu by Osamu Tezuka"
A graphic novel about the life of the Buddha? I'm there! Since it's a graphic novel, it goes super fast. It's not completely serious. Tezuka throws in some jokes about turning water into coke and draws himself into a few frames. It ends with the birth of Siddhartha, and I'll probably try to read the rest of the series to decide whether they all tell me what I want to know about the Buddha. I think for people like me who are just trying to get an idea about Buddhism, it's probably pretty decent. Stay tuned. For now B+

"Two Truths and a Lie" by Scott Schofield
This is the script for a one man show about the life of the author, a female to male transsexual. It's mostly in a lighthearted tone, with sit-com like recollections of involvement in debutante balls in the South when the author still identified as a female lesbian. There are few pictures to help you figure out what's actually going on, but it's short enough to read in an hour in the car, which is what I did. B+

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