Monday, January 4, 2016

Back at It

Don't go thinking that since I haven't posted for a couple Mondays, I haven't been reading.  On the contrary, the holiday weeks have been filled with some challenging books - two in particular kept me in the land of weird for while.

On the Run with Mary frequently popped up on rather obscure suggested reading lists.  I like those lists.   In this case, I think the interest stemmed more from what could have been rather than what really is. Jonathan Barrow, promising writer and artist, was killed in a car accident along with his fiance two weeks before their wedding. Barrow was 22.  In an unsettling passage in the book, the narrator witnesses a wedding turning into a funeral.

The narrator of this Catcher-in-the-Rye-Goes-to-the-Dogs story runs aways from an elite boarding school.  In a subway station he meets an unlikely companion, a trash talking dachshund named Mary.  In addition to having a colorful vocabulary, dirty Mary is an alcoholic, nymphomaniac drug addict.  Your read correctly - Mary is a dog - a talking dog with a posh British accent.  

David Mitchell of Cloud Atlas fame has given us Slade House, a Hotel California meets Escher mash-up. Honestly, this book jumped, scurried, hid and surprised too often for me.  Literary vertigo.  Like the Mary book, this takes place in an English working class neighborhood.  The hard to find Slade House beckons only those who are different - the lonely, the precocious, divorced, shy. Slade House residents invite a new person into their midst every nine years.   What happens inside at first excites, but soon the reality hits that no one ever gets to leave.

From there I moved on to a book less challenging for my pea-brain.  After the success of 2015's "Year of Hemingway" I decide to once again declare a theme.  2016 will be filled with mystery starting with Caroline Graham who created DCI Tom Barnaby, the lead detective in the PBS Midsomer Murder series.  Quite a collection of eccentrics live in and around the picture perfect English village of Badger's Drift - the bumbling local doctor, the gardening spinster, and the creepy funeral home worker As in the TV series, numerous people drop dead before the final nail is in the coffin.  Not a cozy mystery by any stretch, Graham peppers this novel with clandestine love affairs, spicy language and plenty of innuendo.  Thanks to Caroline Graham, my year of mystery is off to a jolly good start.

Next up - our book group selection, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats.

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