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friedag

September: What are you reading?

friedag
16 years ago

I'm reading a first novel called Sucker's Kiss by Alan Parker. Perhaps I should say Sir Alan Parker. I didn't know he had been knighted. Parker is probably better known as a film director (The Commitments, Midnight Express).

The setting is America from the time of the earthquake in San Francisco in 1906 through Prohibition and the Great Depression. A young man appears destined to be nothing more than a petty crook, but maybe there's hope for him.

It's quite an interesting piece of historical fiction, so far. I had never heard of this book. It must not have sold well because I found it in a bargain bin. Oh well, I've found some gems that way and this just might be another.

Comments (150)

  • twobigdogs
    16 years ago

    Oh good heavens, cindy! That was even before the discovery of aspirin! It makes me shudder. Elizabeth Marsh must have been made of some strong stuff! Thanks for sharing that tidbit.

    Since this is a "what are you reading" thread, I will add that I am also reading Richard North Patterson's Exile. It is for book club but it is hard hard hard to pick it up when the Elizabeth Marsh book is the other reading option!

    PAM

  • friedag
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Cindy, sorry that I'm late in replying to your question about Sucker's Kiss. Yes, I was bothered by the young character's too-knowing-for-his-years narration. I suppose a case could be made that it's really the adult looking back on the events but told through child's eyes -- as happens with Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, but Parker didn't do it as skillfully...it jarred.

    There were anachronisms that also bothered me: one was his calling his mother "Mom." I suppose there were people who might have used the word in the early 1900s, but I think "Ma" or "Mama" were most used at that time..."Mom" didn't become as common until post-World War II (my mother backs this up). Parker, being British, may not have realized that, and no one told him -- probably even most Americans are too young nowadays to know it. There are other examples, but as usual when I'm trying to think of them, I can't.

    The story did hold my interest and I finished it, but I probably wouldn't have if I had had something else to read. It wasn't bad, but it was no gem.

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  • vickitg
    16 years ago

    I read Tortilla Curtain a couple of years ago for my book group. It was by far one of the most painful books I've ever had to read. I grew up in So. California, and this book painted such a horrifically accurate picture of the situation there. I can't say that I enjoyed reading it, but I'm glad I read it, I think. Boyle is a very good writer ... maybe too good.

  • veer
    16 years ago

    Frieda, I looked up Sucker's Kiss (the title is enough to put me off) and in the Daily Telegraph review by Max Hastings he mentions the possibly anachronism "would a Chinaman in California in the 30's have complained of 'racist' treatment?" The Guardian reviewer felt it was written in the style of a 'voice-over' and would be easy to turn into a film script.

  • martin_z
    16 years ago

    Got sick of reading Booker short-list (especially after getting so bored with Darkmans) so I went back to Great Expectations. I intend to re-read Mister Pip with Great Expectations still fresh in my mind.

    Love Dickens. But oh! the ridiculous coincidences....!

  • woodnymph2_gw
    16 years ago

    Just finished the biography of Beatrix Potter by Linda Lear. In contrast, the movie seems rather insipid, although I liked it. Miss Potter was far more than the illustrator of animal stories. She was a scientist, skilled breeder of sheep and cattle, an art collector,an environmentalist, an early feminist, and so much more.

    Potter worked closely with the National Trust to save old farms, furnishings, and pristine rural landscapes of the Lake District in England. She was independent, outspoken, and this bothered some of the men she worked with. A distinctive personality, who achieved far more good than she set out to do. Truly a Renaissance woman....

    I am waiting for A. Dillard's newest at the library: "The Maytrees." Meanwhile, a friend has just loaned me a biography of poet Dylan Thomas.

  • colormeconfused
    16 years ago

    Woodnymph, when you read The Maytrees, please let me know what you think. I read it several weeks ago because it was highly recommended as a contemporary lit summer read, but I found most of the premise to be completely unrealistic. Maybe I feel that way because I can't picture myself doing the same thing as the female character. Let me know how you feel about it, if you don't mind.

  • cindydavid4
    16 years ago

    >The Guardian reviewer felt it was written in the style of a 'voice-over' and would be easy to turn into a film script.

    Yep, seems about right. One reviewer recommended that he not quit his day job.

    >"would a Chinaman in California in the 30's have complained of 'racist' treatment?"

    I don't see why he wouldn't; but it wouldn't have been expressed quite the same way. I did catch many other anacronisms that bothered me - can't remember now what they all were. But my complaint in general concerned the narrator. I don't need to relate to all characters, I don't need all characters to be without sin - I do want them to be complex and interesting enough for me to care. He just didn't give me any reason to.

    I am also reading the new Pratchett - and I am sorry to say that it is not as good as most of his. Either I've been reading him too long, or the subject isn't interesting enough (Finances) or he has strayed too far away from the original premise of the series, but I am bored with it half way through. Oh, and my favorite character DEATH doesn't appear to be around.

  • carolyn_ky
    16 years ago

    I found another Elizabeth Ironside at the library. This one is The Accomplice. I had only read one other, Death in the Garden, which I liked. This one is good, too. I'm about a fourth of the way through it.

  • rosefolly
    16 years ago

    I'm listening to My Antonia as a recorded book. I'm really enjoying it so far. I don't know why I never read any Willa Cather before now.

    Rosefolly

  • Chris_in_the_Valley
    16 years ago

    As Simple as Snow by Gregory Galloway (whose name I notice is a double dactyl) While listed as a mystery, it really is a first love/ coming of age story, and like life, some questions are never answered. I found it well written (first novel) and what I particularly liked is that it is a novel of a new generation. I liked seeing the depiction of communications via text messaging and IMing. It may well be a young adult novel, but it seems better written than most I've read (not that I've ever read any other than the Nancy Drew type series.) The novel reminded me of my fascination as a kid for mysteries and secrets and wanting to create them where none exist.

  • sheriz6
    16 years ago

    I just finished Wendy Wasserstein's Elements of Style. I've always loved her plays and really enjoyed her novel. It's a scathing send-up of post-9/11 high society New Yorkers, and it makes the crew in The Nanny Diaries seem almost tame in comparison. It was great fun to read.

    pam, thanks for the info on Heartsick, I really liked Confessions of a Teen Sleuth and would be interested in reading something else by this author.

  • martin_z
    16 years ago

    Internet, Internet,
    Gregory Galloway
    wrote a new book called As
    Simple as Snow;

    Digital-age-ingly,
    kids in the story used
    txts and IMing; but
    talking? - hell, no!

  • lemonhead101
    16 years ago

    Finally finished the Number One Ladies' Detective Agency series which was really sweet. (Haven't read the very latest as I keep missing it on the shelves of the library, but will at some point.) Anyway, I enjoyed the series - very sweet. Something that I noticed is that the author hardly ever uses contractions which helps with the general tone of the book. Interesting, I thought.

    Now on to Sarah Orne Jewett's "The Country of the Pointed Firs" which I heard about here on RP. So many of you in past posts have mentioned it that I got it out of the library with no idea what it was about. However, it must be good if so many of you mentioned it so am reading it now. It's good so far though.

    I am ignoring the pressure of my TBR pile and just reading my way through my library books that I got yesterday: the Jewett book, "Heat" by Burford and an Angela Thirkell one called "The Double Affair". Looking forward to this group of books. I sort of regret having to work - would much prefer to be reading with a cup of coffee and a box of chocolates.

    Tee hee.

  • Chris_in_the_Valley
    16 years ago

    Someone is feisty this afternoon. I probably paid attention to the name because I kept reading it as the name of one of your MPs (and almost avoided the novel) and then double dactyls figure in the story. Didn't we do an entire thread of double dactyls?

    Just finished A Noble Radiance by Donna Leon, which is the middle of a series about a police detective in Venice. The order didn't seem to make a difference. I picked it up mostly after becoming fascinated with Venice after Berendt's The City of Falling Angels (And seeing the movie "A Dangerous Beauty" although I have yet to read anything by or about the main character.) I enjoyed it greatly.

  • martin_z
    16 years ago

    Yes, we did do a whole thread of double dactyls - a good few years ago now. Along with clerihews (I think they're called).

    I couldn't resist the challenge, and it wasn't too busy at work....

  • veronicae
    16 years ago

    SPOILER

    I am reading Kathy Reich's new novel Ashes to Bones. There is discussion of an unusual disease (quite proud of myself, as I figured it out early in the book). However, there is some interesting Canadian history involved...which I searched out on the internet...only to discover much of the same info later on in the book. So, a book which is essentially a beach, or while watching football read, turned into an interesting learning experience...and some map work as well. For this alone, I recommend the book.

  • jazzie
    16 years ago

    I am reading Lord of The Rings.. I have been reading it for about a month.. I have been real busy so it has been a page here a page there literally... My poor book, I have read it so much, the pages have started falling out...

  • bwilliams5980
    16 years ago

    Sheri - thanks for the info on Confessions of a Teen Sleuth - I'm going to try and pick it up this weekend - I'm really looking forward to it.

    Cindy - I'm sorry to hear about the Pratchett because I've been looking forward to that as well -of course, I'll still read it - lol.

    Rosefolly - isn't Willa Cather lovely? I too couldn't believe I had waited so long to read her.

    I've noticed a lot of posts mentioning YA and children's books. Worth a thread maybe about YA books that adults will love or adult books (like Lovely Bones) that suddenly become popular with YA's? I'm always trying to stay tuned into that market for my students - and, yes, I love them myself. There is really nothing "juvenile" about a lot of it. I think there is some truly wonderful writing out there that is often "lost" to readers in general because it has been marketed as YA.

    Brenda

  • colormeconfused
    16 years ago

    I agree Brenda. I would have never discovered The Book Thief if it hadn't been recommended here on this forum. Since it's marketed in the U.S. as YA, many people have missed out on a great reading experience.

  • martin_z
    16 years ago

    Finished Great Expectations. Glad to see that the very end of it was yet another ridiculous coincidence!

    A couple of people on this thread have mentioned Rohinton Mistry. He's been shortlisted three times for the Booker Prize: the two books mentioned above (A Fine Balance and Family Matters) and also Such a Long Journey. I've actually not read any of his books, which for someone who has done so well on the Booker shortlists is a bit of an omission. I don't yet have AFB or FM in my collection, but I do have Such a Long Journey - so I've started that.

  • woodnymph2_gw
    16 years ago

    While waiting for "The Maytrees" to come, I decided to re-visit Ian McEwan's "Saturday." I am glad I am re-reading this, as I still find his novels mind-shatteringly good.

  • Chris_in_the_Valley
    16 years ago

    One of the major disadvantages in downloading books from the library is that one gets none of the usual clues about a book, just a brief outline of what it's about. I've taken to looking them up on Amazon first, but failed to do so with A Summer in Tuscany. Okay, the title should have been clue enough, but it's about Tuscany! How could I pass it up? So I just listened to a multi-cultural, multi-generational romance novel, and not even a good romance novel. I hate when that happens.

  • Chris_in_the_Valley
    16 years ago

    ...but at least this time I didn't end up stopping at a toll booth with a porn scene coming full volume through the speakers.

  • colormeconfused
    16 years ago

    WHAT?!

    Oh, never mind. The first time I read that I had these horrible images in my mind of the worker in the toll booth being responsible for the porn noise blaring across the speakers.

  • cindydavid4
    16 years ago

    >of course, I'll still read it - lol.

    Oh I hope you do - I feel terrible for not liking it, and I keep thinking maybe if enough people tell me its great I can give it another try. So do let me know!

    I decided to reread some of my favs. Did this already a bit this summer, with the Witches books. Now going into the latter ones like Jingo, Last Continent, Truth.

  • vickitg
    16 years ago

    chris - What do you mean "downloading books from the library"? Can you actually download the books to your computer to read, or do you just add them to a wish list at your local library? I'd love to be able to download books from the library.

  • veer
    16 years ago

    Where They Were Missed by Lucy Caldwell. An unmemorable title for a surprisingly good read.
    Caldwell grew up in Ulster during the height of 'The Troubles' and her novel centres on the lives of two little girls in Belfast during this time. In no way is it a political book but it paints a sad picture of family breakdown under strained living conditions.

  • Chris_in_the_Valley
    16 years ago

    Karalk, sorry I missed your question from earlier in the month. Yes, Pardonable Lies is the 3rd Maisie Dobbs novel. This one is set in 1930 and she goes to France to find out what really happened to a Lord's son during the war.

    Sarah Canary, check you local library's web page for downloadable books. We have Maryland Digital Library here with Adobe Ebooks, audiobooks, and videos. We used to have Netlibrary, which I like better, but Baltimore County just dropped it because everyone else seemed to be having problems. I know the Knox County Tennessee library system still has Netlibrary. Maybe your's does too. I download audiobooks and transfer them to a mp3 player. They have a kill code that makes them inaccessible on the computer after 3 weeks, but they are still good on the mp3 player. Plus, you can pay to download books from audible.com.

  • cindydavid4
    16 years ago

    Now reading "One Dead in the Attic" by David Rose. He wrote several articles for the New Orleans Time-Picayune during the year after katrina. They are personal, and yet universal, in how we deal with crisis, chaos and loss, and how hope somehow remains part of us. Interesting to read after Deluge - that was very much an historic account (as well as a political one). This is written with that in its background; the personal is the story. Very much recommend this one.

  • lemonhead101
    16 years ago

    Finished up "Heat" by Bill Buford -- autobiography about his time spent in the hot and frantic kitchen of a famous chef and how he also travelled to Italy to learn about butchering and making pasta. Interesting but really put me off some foodie stuff --- ducks' tongue, anyone? Yuck.

    Then read (or tried to read) an Angela Thirkle but just wasn't in the right mood or something so back to the library for that one. Now on to "The Road from Coorain" by Jill Ker Conway. I have heard from other RPers that this is a good read so I am looking forward to it.

  • pam53
    16 years ago

    When I read The Book Thief I didn't know it was a YA book and I loved it.
    I know several of you read In The Woods-Tana French. The book was well-written but way too slow for my taste, in fact I ended up quick reading the last 100 pages and was disappointed at the ending.
    Just read Ann Packer's Songs Without Words. I enjoyed it and wondered about Claussen's Pier. Has anyone read that one?
    I have Amy Bloom's Away waiting next and then it's time for another library stock-up.
    Tomorrow I have cataract surgery on my right eye. I hope it helps. I am very tired of having to have every light on in the house and sit directly under one to read and knit! I am nervous although every one says it's a cinch. They are my eyes after all!

  • cindydavid4
    16 years ago

    Pam, thats funny - I just started Away! We'll have to compare notes!

    Best of luck with the surgery. I've also heard its a cinch; at least that is what I am telling my MIL; she is having that in a few months, on both eyes. I'll be thinking of you tomorrow :)

  • disputantum
    16 years ago

    Managed to read my third book this year: Poop Culture. I bought it to put in the guest bath along with a couple of other books. Also put the Bristol stool chart and the Sitzpinkel sign in there.

  • vickitg
    16 years ago

    Chris - Thanks for the library info. Apparently our library doesn't have that service. I guess I'll just have to keep reading the old-fashioned way.

    Pam53 - I read "Clausen's Pier" several years ago. I liked it okay. I never really connected with the main character, though. Like you, I also loved The Book Thief.

  • bookmom41
    16 years ago

    My favorite book of the month is The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. Drawing heavily from mythology and folklore, this youth book involves teenaged twins in San Francisco with Nicholas Flamel and John Dee in a battle to save the world. My ten year old highly recommended it and I raced through it--the next in this planned series comes in in 2008 and we can't wait.

    Earlier this month I reread Watership Down for my bookclub and fell in love with it all over again. Along with a variety of forgettable books, Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Mineral and the aforementioned Songs Without Words are in my TBR/already read piles.

    As far as other books and authors mentioned in this thread:
    Rohinton Mistry is one of my favorite authors and A Fine Balance is one of my favorite books. A friend of mine whose parents and extended family are from India recommended him and said, unfortunately, his portrayal of India is accurate. Tortilla Curtain I found a bit heavy-handed but agree with its premise. Dive from Clausen's Pier I enjoyed and even identified with the main character (yikes!) but her writing was a bit uneven. Big Stone Gap et al are riotously funny; my husband's family is from that area of Virginia and the author captures their way of talking perfectly. Yes, my mother-in-law really says "murried."

  • woodnymph2_gw
    16 years ago

    Still waiting for "The Maytrees", so am reading a memoir by Daphne DuMaurier, "Myself, When Young." Very well-written, with wonderful descriptions of Cornwall and some "great houses" in the countryside of England. What an interesting family this writer came from!

    I am one who liked "Dive From Clausen's Pier" very much. But I think I am in the minority....

  • thyrkas
    16 years ago

    I liked "Dive From Clausen's Pier", too. I work in a hospital and much of the work I do involves trauma injuries, some quite similar to the one described in the book. Recently saw a case where the wife (a registered nurse) of the injured young man filed for divorce before her husband even came home from the hospital. She understood what was ahead for them, and couldn't deal with it.

  • bookmom41
    16 years ago

    My bookclub read DfCP and it was a good choice for discussion purposes. I think the idea of "responsibility" and how it affects our choices and ultimately shapes our lives is fascinating. My understanding is that her new book runs with the responsibility theme, too.

  • carolyn_ky
    16 years ago

    I have just finished The Smoke by Tony Broadbent. The setting is London just after WWII, and the protagonist is a super thief who gets entangled with Russian spys, MI 5, and the local gang lord. It's a super book.

  • Kath
    16 years ago

    I read an Aurelio Zen book by Michael Dibdin, which was OK but didn't make me want to read any more.

    I have just finished 'One More Time' by Damien Leith. This bloke won last year's Australian Idol singing competition - he has a fantastic voice and can sing just about any kind of song, and has just released an album which went to number one. The book is quite good for a first effort, so he is pretty talented. It tells about an Irishman with OCD who has left Ireland suddenly and is trekking in Nepal.
    (Declaration: I am a real fan, in case you hadn't guessed *g* I have met him and talked to him for quite a while and he is also a very nice bloke. But the assessment of the book is unbiased.)

  • sheriz6
    16 years ago

    I'm reading a Beverley Nichols book, Father Figure which gives his account of growing up with an alcoholic parent. His official biography by Bryan Connon, which I read last year, had raised many questions about the accuracy of his memories (BN wrote the book when he was quite old) so it's interesting to compare BN's first-person account with his biographer's POV. A quick read, and some interesting background on Nichols as a writer.

    I've also been dipping into The Book of Lost Books: An Incomplete History of All the Great Books You'll Never Read by Stuart Kelly. So far, I'm through the Greeks, and I'm amazed at how many plays, poems, etc., are referenced in other places, but the original text does not exist. I'm also amazed the author has spent so much time tracking down these sorts of things. Overall, quite interesting.

  • lemonhead101
    16 years ago

    Finished up "The Road From Coorain" (good) and now on to "Blind Assassin" by Margaret Atwood. I started it, but put it down due to other things and now I think I have to restart as I can't remember anything about it except some mention of a button factory.

    Sigh.

  • cindydavid4
    16 years ago

    She did a follow up to Coorain about her life in America. Not as good, but worth reading.

    >The Book of Lost Books: An Incomplete History of All the Great Books You'll Never Read by Stuart Kelly

    Ok, that is a book I must read, thanks!

  • Chris_in_the_Valley
    16 years ago

    I'm listening to The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates. After a lengthy family saga build-up, it has morphed into an advocacy novel centered around Love Canal. I'm continuing, although I have a visceral dislike for such novels. I'd much rather read a non-fiction account of such. The Love Canal problem was unbelievably bad with what really did happen, but Oates irritates me beyond measure by getting details wrong and demonizing undeservedly in a couple of places.

  • martin_z
    16 years ago

    Just finished Such a Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry. Quite a moving story - visually very powerful. I think it would film well. I'm certainly keen to read more, particularly after the good reviews elsewhere on this forum.

  • lemonhead101
    16 years ago

    Struggling a bit with "Blind Assassin" by Margaret Atwood. I can see the two threads (or maybe three) threads of the story, but am not too enthusiastic about the sci-fi aspect of the story. Does it get better as you move on through the story? I am nearly halfway through it and wondering if I should continue to plough on. Is it worth it?

  • dynomutt
    16 years ago

    And now for something completely different .........

    I'm reading the Federal Register, Vol. 72, No. 161. This changes 37 CFR Part 1 and is entitled :

    Changes To Practice for Continued Examination Filings, Patent Applications Containing Patentably Indistinct Claims, and Examination of Claims in Patent Applications

    I want to slit my wrists with an extremely dull plastic butter knife or, better yet, a particularly obtuse spork.

    {{gwi:2117419}}

    For some comedic relief (and to save my sanity), I'm re-reading PJ O'Rourke's Give War A Chance : America's Fun New Imperialism. He pokes fun at governments, war, and pretty much everything else. It's a very welcome relief from reading dense legislation and trying to make heads or tails of said legislation.

  • Chris_in_the_Valley
    16 years ago

    Lemonhead, Blind Assassin isn't my favorite Atwood, but I do like it. If I remember correctly it gets better as it goes along.

    Dynomutt, you have my sympathy. The Federal Register was, as a minimum, a daily scan for me. And far too often I had to read the soporific thing.

  • thyrkas
    16 years ago

    Now reading part two of the trilogy, Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. It is entitled "The Wife". My book club is reading the trilogy in three parts, and discussing each part individually, rather than reading the whole book and trying to discuss it in its entirety at one sitting. So far this way of doing it seems to be working out. At the meeting for part one, "The Wreath", we took our time discussing various aspects of the book, looked at maps, and listened to Norwegian music. A worthwhile meeting!