Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Fast Times with Book Reviews

It's hard to work up the motivation to post while in Michigan, what with the lake, the beach, the dunes, the Two Hearted Ale, the family, the Harper playing in the sand, in the creek, and in the woods, but here are a couple of quick book reviews to help me keep track of my reading:

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. I had never read any of Gaiman's prose before this, but, based on this (a recommendation from a former student), now I may. An enjoyable, if somewhat occasionally overwrought romp through what appears, at first, to be a climactic (and probably doomed) battle between aging, forgotten, mostly immigrant gods and the more modern, sleeker gods of the computer, the stripmall, the digital watch. Some great writing, solid pacing, only one or two misshapen speeches, and a whole lot of ideas that high school students are more likely to find new and inspirational. Plus, one character says, "My last girlfriend was Greek... The shit her family ate... Like rice wrapped in leaves. Shit like that."

The Bird Artist, by Howard Norman. Felt like a coming of age story at first, about a kid in early twentieth century Newfoundland getting initiated into art, sex, and family strife. Winds up being much more about transformation (transforming birds into art, for example, or transforming live birds into dead birds into money, or transforming a man into a corpse, or sex into love, or adolescent confusion into vengeance, or events into a story and a story into redemption) and is all the better for it. And Norman can write. And it's got a great female lead who does some serious damage to the world whisky supply over the course of the book.

No comments: