Saturday, July 07, 2007

I had time for two books this week, so awesome with the 4th of July holiday! The first book was A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore. Wonderful! So funny and droll, heartbreaking and ridiculous. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it. I got a big kick out of one of his previous books, Lamb, and this one was just as good. It follows the story of Charlie Asher and his daughter Sophie. After a tragedy in their family, Charlie discovers a bizarre set of changes happening in his life, while he first suspects that he is going crazy, he is shocked by something even worse, he's now working for Death. This book is by turns silly, bizarre and really sweet, plus it's set in San Fransisco, one of my favorite cities. I kept laughing out loud while reading it and stopping to read lines out loud to Joe, which I'm sure amused (and distracted) him from Tom Clancy. Anyway, great, goofy, absurd, dark, and sad little book. (I particularly loved the goth teenager Lily! Her goth name is perfection.)

The second book I read this week was All The Finest Girls by Alexandra Styron. A beautifully written book. A bit sparse and it left me wanting more description, more background and just more information in general about the characters. The basic story jumps between present day on St. Clair an island in the Caribbean, where Adelaide is attending the funeral and wake of her former nanny, Lou, and then the story swings back to the 1970's when Lou is working for Adelaide's parents as her nanny, in their wealthy New England home. Adelaide is an out of control, neglected and rather troubled child. She has an alter ego she calls Cat who seems to arrive while Adelaide is under extreme stress, while her parents argue yet again, when her fragile actress mother leaves for months on end to film her movies, and while her arrogant cold father disappears to complete his next book. Lou is the only stable parent figure that Addy has and yet when Lou leaves to return to her own family back in St. Clair, Addy loses touch with her and doesn't see her again, until she attend's Lou's funeral in the 1990's. I liked this book and yet I feel a bit let down by it, not much resolution or change in the main character and just a general malaise at reading about Addy's lonely and isolated adult life. Styron captures loss, loneliness and isolation so well that is actually felt uncomfortable to read.

It's funny that between these two books, A Dirty Job and All the Finest Girls, I find myself writing more about the book that I didn't like as much. With Christopher Moore's book, I enjoyed it so much that I almost don't want to write about it and ruin its lovely suprises and humor. All the Finest Girls was skillfully written but just felt like more of a chore to read, with its focus on death, grief and childhood traumas. Read A Dirty Job, read it today!

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