Meredith's Challenge 2.0

52 books, one year. Stay tuned for more details.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

2.14 The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove by Christopher Moore

A friend, C, loaned me this last week when I was desperate for something to read in the waiting room. It was a pretty quick, easy read. Slightly ridiculous and sounding like bad p0rn at times (touched her button... please) but just right for what it was. Which is a giant radioactive lizard, a former B-Movie queen, a pot-head sheriff and a whole town addicted to anti-depressants. I don't know if I'll read any more of his oeurve, unless C, who adores him, hands me off something else.

Up next, I delve into the hard-boiled detective genre.

Monday, April 17, 2006

2.13 The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich

This novel is ridiculously gorgeous. The prose is so finely crafted, it made me stop and re-read a few passages. Such a pleasure to read. I was sad to finish it.

Master follows the story of two families, one made from German immigrants and the other a daughter, her alcoholic father and her pseudo-husband, all living in the same small town in North Dakota. Their relationships feel real, and had me sucking in my breath, trying to avoid tears more than once. I gobbled this one up, on the train, in my old bedroom, at the hospital. I wish that I could learn to savor my literature but I'm always going through it at a break-neck pace to find out what happens and then I'm disappointed when I get to the end. The last chapter felt like is was tacked on slightly, but at the same time it belonged, perhaps in a different form. Erdrich wrote about Argus in her novel Tracks, but she has a much tighter focus on it this time around. I wasn't too interested in Tracks when I first read it, but now I want to go through it again to see if I missed something. I seem to remember one of the characters in Master doing something pretty horrible to someone in Tracks. I actually want to read Erdrich's whole body of work now.

I keep meaning to say something brilliant in these posts and falling very short. This book is amazing, you should read it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Any recommendations for an eight hour hospital wait? I need some light, fluffy things for Thursday.

2.12 My Nine Lives: Chapters of a Possible Past by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

I discovered this when I browsing through the library's shelves a few weeks ago. I hadn't heard of the author or the work before but it looked interesting so I picked it up.

Divided up into 9 short stories, each chapter focuses on a woman who has ties in both the States or England and India. Most of the stories made me sad. A lot of them were about women who never reached their full potential and they knew it. They entered into relationships with men that weren't healthy for them, they clung to their partners and then realized, all of a sudden, that they were older and their lives weren't really what they wanted. Then, most of the men that they held up their lives for just disappeared.

The prose is beautiful. The author weaves her words so that you feel like you're the proverbial fly on the wall. I liked being able to see into the characters' motivations but not have the stories be in the first person. A good surprise from the stacks.

2.11 Best Food Writing 2001 edited by Holly Hughes

This was really hit or miss. The first half of it was mostly junk. Some of the essays were written so poorly, I was appalled that they could be considered the best of anything. When I was mentioning it to the boy, he said that this means it will be that much easier to enter into the food writing biz myself if those were examples of my competitors. It picked up by the end though. I genuinely enjoyed the last two sections, which were less about reporting food news and more about the authors' relationships with food. I'm beginning to OD on the food writing, so no more for a while.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

2.10 A Cook's Tour by Anthony Bourdain

After reading this I can safely say that I don't ever need to eat a still beating cobra's heart, a deep fried tree slug, a hotel's pet iguana or natto. Bourdain has done it all for me so (thankfully) I don't have to.

I liked this much more than the other book if his I read, Kitchen Confidential. I enjoyed reading about his travels around the world looking for a perfect meal instead of stupid crap he did while he was on meth. I know that people do stupid stuff all the time, I don't need to read about it. Whereas, very few people travel to Portugal, Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan, Mexico, Moscow and lots of other places, just to taste the native food. I now have a burning desire to have Vietnamese food, go to Oaxaca, and go to a Japanese spa, in Japan. I'm horribly jealous that someone paid him to go around the world to eat. Some parts are pretty terrifying, like facing down the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the bathrooms he encountered but most of it was fascinating. Especially the deliberate way he had to eat his dinner at the spa.

I've been talking a lot about food lately, partially because of my future plans and partially because it's springtime and farmer's market is getting exciting. I'm supposed to read a wide variety of books for this here challenge, otherwise it's not much of a challenge really. I'm slowly getting back on track. More to come.

Monday, April 03, 2006

2.9 A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham

I really love The Hours. I made sure to read the book before I saw the movie and both are brilliant. I think that it is one of the few examples when the movie is as good or almost as good the book. Home is not as good as Hours, not even close. It was also made into a movie, which I was vaguely interested in, but after reading the book, I don't think I am anymore.

I thought that I knew what the story was about, but apparently, that was just the last 100 pages or so. The novel follows two boys who grow up together in Ohio. One moves to NYC and other follows a few years later. Stuff happens. One of the characters makes himself emotionally unavailable and the other is "simple". I felt like the book shared both of these characteristics. Not nearly as good as I thought it might be and the part that I thought would be the most interesting was the shortest, and not really that interesting after all. Sort of like this review. Eh.