Picky McPickerson

After I finished Strange As This Weather Has Been, I moved on to So Brave, Young, and Handsome. It’s Leif Enger’s second novel and I loved Peace Like a River, so of course when I saw it prominently displayed in an airport bookstore I had to break my “no more buying books until after the move” pledge to myself and purchase it. Anyway, this novel follows a young writer, Monte, who has enjoyed some success with his first novel and sets out to write his second and…nothing.

From there the story unravels to involved a mysterious neighbor, a Pinkerton and a voyage to Mexico. (Set in the early 20th century, I believe.) Anyway, I really liked the novel. I literally gobbled it up. Joe was in town these past two weeks, so you know it’s a good read when I’m saying to him, “um…I know I haven’t seen you in three months, but…um…I’m going to go read for a little while.” 🙂

After I finished Enger’s novel, I picked up another airport impulse buy, figuring my luck would continue. It was a novel called The Last Town on Earth and I plucked it off the shelf on my way back from Bread Loaf a couple years ago. Seemed interesting – a town in Washington state that quarantined itself from the rest of the world amidst the flu epidemic during WWI. See? Sounds cool.

I read a review about it in PW essentially said, “great research, bad storytelling,” and that was my experience of the book. It felt so dull and generic and cliched. I found myself paying less attention to the characters than I was to mentally revising the language. I want to lose myself in a book, not stumble over its wording. Tossed that one aside.

Next on my book shelf was Enemy Women, about a Missourian (?) woman and her experiences in and out of prison during the Civil War. Again, cool concept, something historical I’m curious to know more about. And it wasn’t your typical Southern Belle story, so I had high hopes. Plus, the author is a poet. Everything seemed to point to a good read.

Again, disappointment. The pacing was strange – it seemed to go slow and then all of a sudden I’d find myself in the midst of action and wondering how the hell I ended up there. Transitions subtle to the point of being invisible – and not in a good way. I read a hundred pages, but couldn’t force myself to stay interested, so…another toss.

Third time’s a charm, though. I picked up Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino. It’s about sisters and jealousy and spite – very dark, very Japanese. A hundred page of this and I’m definitely still interested. It’s a translation, so I can only hope that it’s close to the author’s original intent, but so far I’m liking it.

I used to never, ever, ever put a book down after I started it. But frankly – my time is limited and I’d rather not spend time on a book I don’t enjoy if there’s another book available to enjoy.

This doesn’t apply to TV shows, of course, so I’m off to watch the Real Housewives of NJ finale!


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