When you are living out of a suitcase in your friend's house, without the distractions of a sewing room and art supplies, it's possible to get a lot of reading done. So this month must be some kind of record for me, at least since the turn of the century. SIX BOOKS!Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey (first published 1768). Hmm ... two stars? Maybe I just didn't 'get' it? A set of short sketches that ends mid-sentence (or was my Kindle transcription truncated?) Maybe if I understood the French that was liberally sprinkled through the text I would have enjoyed it more. Or maybe I just need to dissect it in a literature class. I feel I really missed something.
Arthur Golden's Memoirs of Geisha. This was hugely popular a decade or so ago, but being a bit of pop-culture snob, I tend to eschew hugely popular books (which I why I haven't ready any Stieg Larsson). It was an easy read, somewhat interesting, but in many ways hollow. Despite all the author's research, I think it's a huge stretch for an American man to accurately speak in the first person as a Japanese woman. I also queried the character's love and acceptance of all things American -- it seems somehow self-serving on the author's part.
Gabriel's Gift by Hanif Kureishi. Another 2-star rating. It started with a good premise but really didn't live up to its potential. A year ago I read another of Kureishi's books, The Buddha of Suburbia, which fizzled out half way through. This one never got up to full steam. I am going to keep trying with Kureishi because I think he might yet delight me.
Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Spark delivers tightly controlled dialogue and a narrative that hops around chronologically in a way that just adds interest to the story line. This is a well-deserved classic. And it's short. Read it!
Kitchen Confidential is another book I'm reading a decade past its prime. Am I shocked by his revelations of the dark side of commercial kitchens? A little ... but as a frugal home cook, I don't eat out much anyway. What I learned most is that I really don't want to work in a restaurant myself.
Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio is deservedly an American classic. First published in 1919, it delivers rich, complex character studies rather than a plot-driven tale. A true joy to read.