young at art

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summer Reading Goal: Book Reviews 1 & 2

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
I have such mixed feelings about this one. The main character of the book is Rose, who at the age of nine discovers that she can taste emotions in food. As the book progresses, we learn that she isn't the only member of her family who has an unusual talent. We follow her through adulthood. How will she eat anything?!

Aimee Bender's writing is mesmerizing, although some people may be put-off by the disappearance of all quotation marks! I didn't mind it once I got the hang of it. All of this is well and good. I enjoy a little magic. I can even get behind the characters. They (Rose's mother, father, and brother Joseph being the main supporting cast) are well-developed and I found myself liking them. But wait...

About two-thirds of the way through the book, I started feeling frustrated. Not just, "I really want to know what is going to happen" frustrated. More like, "This is veering way off course and into too weird for even Brandi territory!" Let me just say that I was left feeling unsatisfied with Joseph's storyline. I won't give it away in case you are planning on reading it.

Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy
This collection of short stories left me wanting to help the characters through their loneliness and problems. I found myself relating to them and then wishing them well as I moved on to the next tale. The characters are real and flawed and wonderful. The collection's characters, filled marital strife, confusion, longing, and hopefulness, reminded me of so many people I know. Meloy captures the essence of living in rural and wide-open spaces. I don't usually enjoy short stories or sad ones at that, but I will read these again. My favorite of the eleven was "Agustin" about an elderly man who longs for a former lover who reappears. I cried more than once while reading these observant stories.

**if you do read "Both Ways" and like it, you might also enjoy "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe" or "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers. Really, anything by Carson McCullers. I love love love her.

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