Book update!

Let’s see, where did we leave off…oh yes, The Plague Dogs! I loved it, though still not as much as I did Watership Down. Adams castigates experimentation on animals without being preachy or tugging at the heartstrings too ostentatiously, which I appreciate. The characters (particularly the animal ones) are excellent, and I really enjoyed how Adams transliterated the tod’s Geordie accent. The book bogs down a little bit in the middle, but the ending is worth it: keep at it. Sprinkled along the way are plenty of startlingly apt observations about human nature that Adams seemingly tosses in as afterthoughts.

I’m a sucker for historical fiction, particularly historical fiction set during the French Revolution, and Until That Distant Day by Jill Stengl did not disappoint! Stengl’s research is impeccable, and I never once felt jolted out of the story by something that felt anachronistic. The characters are all intriguing and do not fall into the stereotypes one sometimes runs across in historical fiction. Colette is a unique heroine, and one with whom I found myself empathizing strongly. The web of sibling relationships was well done, and each Girardeau to whom the reader is introduced was a fully fleshed-out individual. Though mostly serious, the novel did occasionally make me laugh: in particular I loved the line, “On the wall above his chair hung a still-life painting of a green-marbled cheese, unnaturally red apples, and a dead pheasant wearing a traumatized expression.” Also, I’m not sure if the Firefly reference (“disturbing my calm”) was intentional or not, but either way, I loved it. : ) Overall, a splendid read, and I’m avidly hoping that Jill Stengl has another novel in the works.

I found The Ship That Sailed to Mars by William Timlin in a glorious bookshop in Boulder, Colorado. How have I gone my whole life and not heard of this work of art? The story is a 1920s scifi fantasy that looks like the whole thing should be framed. The story itself is lovely, but the book also boasts some of the most beautiful illustrations I’ve ever seen. Some blessed soul put almost the whole thing online (though sadly without Timlin’s exquisite hand-lettered pages), so you have no excuse not to check it out. Read and wonder.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez had been on my to-read shelf for months, so I finally dove in. I have to say, I was disappointed. I’d heard it held up as this pinnacle of classic literature, worthy of being re-read every few years, and I just barely made it through once. I can’t even blame translation issues, since it wasn’t the wording or style that bothered me—that was admittedly good—it was the plot and characterization. I’m not a massive fan of magical realism anyway, so perhaps that colored my interpretation of the book, but that bias had nothing to do with the fatalistic view of life and morality that the book seems to endorse, as though the characters are doomed to commit certain sins, often repeated generationally. I find that theologically distasteful and inaccurate, but also literarily pretty dull. If you’re trying to shock me, Marquez, you would do well to mix it up a bit. By the time the novel meandered to its end (? I guess?), I was heartily ready to be done with the whole town and the Buendia family.

I finally, finally read the other stories in the Five Glass Slippers anthology (I know—bad, bad writer!) and enjoyed them immensely! Great job, ladies! Can’t wait for this little gem to be released out into the world on June 14th.