July 14, 2011

July 2011

So far this summer we’ve been in Paris with Hemingway, visited art museums (sometimes looting them), and partied with rock stars.
Read on:

The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett
Remarkable Creatures – Tracy Chevalier
Prince of Tides – Pat Conroy
Beach Music – Pat Conroy
South of Broad – Pat Conroy
The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery
Kim – Rudyard Kipling
This Wheel’s on Fire – Levon Helm
Courage and Consequence – Karl Rove
The Lives of the Great Composers – Harold Schonberg
Clapton The Autobiography – Eric Clapton
Just Kids – Patti Smith
Mesa Flats Resorts – George Lindsey
Shakespeare By Another Name – Mark Anderson
The Social Animal – David Brooks
Brothers, Rivals, Victors – Jonathan W. Jordan
The King’s Speech – Mark Logue and Peter Conradi
Days of Infamy – Newt Gingrich & William Forstchen
The Deep End of the Ocean – Jacquelyn Mitchard
McGowan’s Return – Rob Smith
Deliver Us from Evil – David Baldacci
Scarlett – Alexandra Ripley
The China Study – Colin Campbell
Forks Over Knives movie
The Case Against Fluoride – Paul Connett
Waterlife movie
The Object of Beauty – Steve Martin
Rules of Betrayal – Christopher Reich
Gods of Greenwich – Norb Vonnegut
Lamb – Christopher Moore
The Sweet Potato Queens’ First Big Ass Novel – Jill Conner Browne
Shakespeare The World as a Stage – Bill Bryson
So Shelley – Ty Roth
The Red Tent – Anita Diamant
A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway
The Paris Wife – Paula McLain

Mary Lou in Maryland said it was too hot to garden so she read:

Ian Rankin, Exit Music (2007).  Inspector Rebus, with retirement fast approaching, is attempting to resolve the murder of a dissident Russian poet.  His superiors are anxious to dismiss it as a mugging gone wrong but Rebus is not satisfied.  The investigation eventually leads him to a local gangster he has pursued for years.  The ending if the novel and Rebus’s career is most satisfyingly surprising.  It will be interesting to see what Rankin does next with this fascinating character.

Alexander McCall Smith, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs (2003).  This is the second novel of a trilogy of delicious satires of academia featuring linguistic scholar Professor Dr. von Ingelfeld.  He is invited to the US as a guest lecturer and moments before his presentation he discovers that his audience is expecting to hear not about Portuguese irregular verbs, but sausage dogs.  Somehow he manages.  His self-delusions are as comical as ever. 

Thomas Keneally, A River Town (1995).  I found this novel easier reading than some of Keneally’s other works.  Our self-effacing hero Tim Shea has emigrated from Ireland to New South Wales, where he supports his wife and family as a storekeeper.  He is an upright and generous man whose virtues are misunderstood and sometimes exploited by his small-minded neighbors.  The actions of his “beloved stranger and spouse” Kitty frequently disrupt his peace, especially when she invites her sisters to join the household.  The livelihood of the entire family is placed at risk when a petty government agent uses Tim’s innate charity to entrap him into breaking a closing law.  An outcast Punjabi peddler and herbalist figures improbably in the rescue of the Shea family.  

Tom Robbins, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates (2000).  This is another delightfully and outrageously funny novel of suspense and intrigue from the author of Another Roadside Attraction and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.  Switters is a most unusual CIA operative whose grandmother “Maestra” assigns him the mission of returning her parrot Sailor Boy to the Amazonian jungle of Peru.  His reward is to be the lovely Matisse Blue Nude from above Maestra’s fireplace.  The mission takes Switters from Seattle to Lima to the deep jungle where he meets a witch doctor.  Complications ensue and Switters’ travels take him to a desert nunnery in Syria.  With typical Robbins plot flourishes, the nuns are improbably linked to the Matisse Blue Nude, and also to a supposedly lost religious prophecy.  More complications ensue, taking Switters and the nuns to Vatican City to match wits with the Papal bureaucracy. Only Robbins could bring such an improbable plot to such a rollickingly satisfying conclusion. 

Sally Goldenbaum, Death by Cashmere (2008), Patterns in the Sand (2009).  These gentle mysteries set in Sea Harbor Massachusetts center around the Seaside Knitting Studio, the owner, and her knitting friends.  They meet one evening a week for fellowship, supper and knitting.  They also undertake to solve the occasional mystery.   The descriptions of the colors and textures of the yarns and the intricacies of the patterns are vivid and the descriptions of the suppers are mouth-watering.  Fluffy and delightful.

Santa Montefiore, The French Gardener (2008).  This is a mystery and a romance that weaves two love stories, 30 years apart, and the lovely and faintly magical garden that nurtures them.  With perhaps the exception of a stereotypical self-centered husband, the characters are well drawn, especially Jean-Paul, the title character. Children are prominent and delightful characters in both threads of the plot.  The structure follows the emergence of the garden, season by season.  I really liked this book and I’m looking for more by Montefiore.

Tom wasn’t able to join us since the village of Milan decided to hire a police chief, but he said he’s been having fun reading The City of Fallen Angels by John Berendt.

July 21 is Ernest Hemingway’s birthday.  Write one true sentence.

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