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Monday, October 24, 2016

Books and More Books

I have a stack of books in my office to share with you, my dear readers, on this blog. It's gotten kind of overwhelming because I haven't been able to write for so long and the books keep coming. Goodreads tells me that I've read 39 books so far this year - actually 13,410 pages in 2016! 
And the last one I read is the best. I finally read Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Wow! I loved this book so much that I wanted to start it over again when I finished. I've long admired Neil Gaiman, but never read a single one of his novels. A story here and there, an essay, but none of his novels. The book about memory and dreams and fantasy was so lovely. A grown man is looking back at his childhood through his seven-year-old eyes. I found fantasy tinged with reality in this glorious tale that resonates with truth. Gaiman says, "Childhood memories are sometimes covered and obscured beneath the things that come later, like childhood toys forgotten at the bottom of a crammed adult closet, but they are never lost for good." This tale is a memory that is fantastical yet realistic in so many ways. The story moves quickly as the reader is drawn into another world. But you'll just have to read it to find out more. 

I also must tell you about Commonwealth, Ann Patchett's new book, which I read as soon as it was released earlier this month. I'm a huge fan of Patchett and her books about everyday people thrown together in unusual circumstances, and I'd heard this one was a bit autobiographical. So I was eager to read this book and I was not disappointed. Just after finishing the book, I heard her read a long passage and be interviewed here in Houston along side Lauren Groff (Fates and Furies). Patchett explained that the book starts with a random drunk kiss at a party and covers the impact of that kiss over the next fifty years. The book starts almost at one character's birth and goes almost to another character's death. Patchett said, "When I think about marriage, I think about divorce." The book is about a blended family and the consequences of the parent's actions on the step siblings. Sometimes it is hard to keep up with the children and who is who as the narrators switch. But the reward is in the story. Each chapter almost stands on its own, but the larger story connects the smaller ones. Yes, Ann's father was a policeman in LA and she grew up with her mother in a southern state.  There's a lot of memoir but a lot of fiction too in this wonderful novel. 

Stay tuned and I'll be back soon with more books for you!