Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lazy Summer Reading

I have my reading rules, just as you do, I'm sure. No books that open with descriptions of weather, unless the book is about weather, like The Perfect Storm. Other than that, get me into the story fast, no need to describe every cirrus cloud hovering over the protagonist's home. No books with dogs on the cover - that can only mean one thing, the dog will eventually die. Third, no series books...too much of a commitment to hang on to the most recent cliff hanger while waiting for the next installment to be published. It's an author/publisher conspiracy, for sure.
Spencer Quinn's second Bernie and Chet book, Thereby Hangs a Tail, violates my three top rules. While it opens with Chet, the impulsive canine sidekick of Bernie, the washed up PI, taking down a perp, in just a few pages, the two are enjoying the sunset (weather!) over a canyon, celebrating with bourbon and chew sticks.
This is my second Spencer Quinn book, and against my better judgement, I have requested an advance copy of the third. I am hooked on this funny, storytelling, crime busting canine. Chet covers so much ground in a day, reporting on the activities of his little buddy, Iggy (who appears to be under house arrest), and other dog acquaintances whom he refer to as "my guys." Keeping his nose to the ground, Chet reports on the major scent-sations picked up on his travels - some irresistible, some sending him instantly into attack mode. Ironically, after every attack, someone feeds Chet...beef jerky, burgers and fires, donuts. All that and his determined quest to capture the illusive Javalia keep my giggling. Bernie is boring; Chet keeps me coming back for more. Somehow Quinn managed to capture a universal dog voice...funny, naive, impetuous, eager, faithful , and perpetually hungry.
I have decided that this will be my summer of light reading. Outside of the reading I will do for book group (Atonement and The Passion of Artemisia) I plan to read books that have been pushed to corners, relegated to bottoms of piles, or completely disregarded because they aren't what I am expected to read. It's an experiment. Will I enjoy these books less that those of fine literary quality? Will there be any redeeming qualities in the Lifetime movie-ish plots? Do these books offer any lessons, words of wisdom, or thought provoking issues? Are these the type of characters and plots that will stick with me, and randomly pop into my mind, begging for a re-examination of their intent? Can these books shift in meaning and intensity based on my state of mind on any given day? Who knows.
But, with that in mind, I will begin with There's No Place Like Home by Mary Higgins Clark followed by a stack of young adult novels. I can see one of two things happening here. I could have a nice relaxing summer reading books about people, places, and incidents that I don't have to worry about. Once I close the book...POOF...they're gone. Or, my mind will turn to mush. I will not ask you to be the judge for fear of how you may respond.
*****McKinley Academy held its first graduation last week. What a nice event. The first eight students to graduate from Manitowoc's first charter school planned the evening, making it lighthearted and personal. Each student designed a PowerPoint presentation including family pictures, school memories, lessons learned, and favorite quotations. Each was set to a piece of music meaningful to the student. They passed out flowers to people instrumental in getting them to this point....parents, grandparents, and teachers. I was seated right behind the staff, so I heard many of the warm comments students whispered to teachers as they bear hugged them. Really, a couple of these guys are solid. I kept wondering how bigger graduations could be tweaked to be as meaningful as this one.
*****As we move into summer, try to kick back. The Garden Fair is this weekend, starting off a season of fun, hometown activities...Ethnic fest, Metro Jam, Acoustic fest....band concerts...Peter Quince...Showtime 2010...too many to mention. Who says there's nothing to do in Manitowoc?

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