Monday, April 23, 2007

Loving Frank

I finished this novel on Saturday night. When I first started reading this book, it really pulled me in, and I couldn't stop for about 200 pages. Then, suddenly, I tired of it. I got bored, and set it down for about two weeks. The problem, I think, is that it's historical fiction, and when historical fiction ventures a little too far into the non-fiction side, my I-can't-finish-non-fiction affliction flares up.

So, basically, it's the story of a love affair between the architect Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney, both of whom are married with children when they meet. Leaving their families for each other would be hard to do in modern times. Back then, it was incredibly scandalous and completely immoral. Added to the fact that women were not able to support themselves very well and needed men, this was a very hard period for Mamah in particular. She was not only leaving her family, but discovering herself and her needs and strengths, something that women of that era didn't frequently have the freedom to do. There is a lot of discussion of the morals of the time, and the beginnings of the feminist movement, and not a whole lot about Frank Lloyd Wright. He happens to design a few buildings during his relationship with Mamah, but this book is not about his work.

Saturday night, I picked up the book again finally, for a little bedtime reading. Since I had gotten bored with it by then, it seemed like a good choice to help me drift off. But, no. About 3 pages past the point where I had set it down for two weeks, something incredibly dramatic happens and I couldn't help but finish the book that night. Luckily I didn't have too much left to read or I might have been up late.

Overall feeling about the book: worth reading, lots of interesting snapshots of Europe and America and Feminism in the early 1900's. The story line drags a bit in the middle but picks up again at the end. If you like setting and period pieces, that should hold you over through the slower plot times.

A Brief History of the Dead

I spent the better part of Sunday devouring "A Brief History of the Dead" by Kevin Brockmeier. It's a sci-fi book based on the idea that when we die, we go to an in-between place for as long as people still live who remember us. When the last person who remembers us dies, we finally go to the final place. It's also about a future society that is hit by a huge deadly virus.

I found myself fascinated, and at turns sad and hopeful as I read it. It's beautifully written too, I got a very strong sense of setting and poetic language. At only 272 fairly small pages, it's a pretty quick read. I think I want to read it again though, just cause it was so evocative. Sometimes being too eager for plot developments, I find myself impatiently skimming the slower, descriptive parts, which is kind of a shame. It's like chugging an exquisite wine just to get drunk.

Added: Oh, and I also meant to mention that for a couple days after finishing this book, I kept thinking about all the people I know that I would be sustaining in the afterlife. I couldn't help but keep thinking of more people to add to my list. Like, that girl from kindergarten whose birthday party I went to. Or, the person I saw get injured in the tilt-a-whirl at the fair when I was 8. Or, the cashier I kind of got to know at the local market around the corner from my house in 2000. How many people do I know? Does it count if I can't think of them right now, but if the right set of circumstances came up I could remember them? Do they have to know me too?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

entries to do

I'm reading books faster than I'm reviewing them. Here's a list of some books I want to write reviews of:

The Romance Reader
Bound Feet and Western Dress
Wicked Lovely
that weird "eat right for your type" book
Coal Black Horse
Love, Meg
That one where the boy nearly jumps to his death and lands in california (actual title)
...the other 10 books on my "read" pile that I can't remember