Books 9/28/04

I’m one story away from finishing The Aspen Papers, Turn of the Screw and two Other Stories, so I will write about that when I finish it. In between reading the first three stories in the book and the last, however, I read the following.

Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth by Alice Walker. I love Alice Walker. She’s one of my heroes, and I adore her writing. That said, I’ve loved previous collections of her poetry more than this one. I liked the things she said in them, they just didn’t … move me. That could entirely have been the frame of mind I was in when I read them, and I’ll give them another shot another time.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Apt 3W by Gabriel Brownstein is a really interesting collection of short stories that all take place in the same apartment building. The titular story is a reimagining of the Fitzgerald story of the same name (without the Apt 3W part), and is really well done. The stories as a whole are really good, and very piercing.

I was prompted to reread Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh as I discussed the movie based on it in a series of e-mails with that fine gentleman Jamie S. Rich. (His blog at is highly reccomended even though I don’t know how to make a link to it.) I enjoyed it far more this time than when I read it before, I think because this time I knew what I was getting into. The book is a series of wacky events, and the main character really doesn’t ever do anything, he just has things happen to him. That bugged me the first time through, but this time I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s the point. Anyway, I liked it this time, but will probably wait to see Bright Young Things (the movie version) until it comes out on DVD.

I read The Slippery Slope and The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket in a matter of hours. You could say, if you were so inclined, that I inhaled them, a phrase which in this case means “read very quickly while not skimming any parts, no matter how much you want to know what happens next, so as not to miss any important clues as to the disposition of the VFD or a certain Mr. Snicket”. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist a little Snickety joke. If you didn’t get it, you should read the books.) I’m more and more enthralled by this series the farther I get into it. As the series goes along more clues are being dropped as to what’s going on, and the complexity is incredible. I love these books and will defintly be reading them to my kids. In the midst of all the gothic-y gloom and unfortunate events is a great message about literacy and doing the right thing. I’m most likely going to die of anticipation and impatience before the next one is released.

I just finished The Secret Letters of Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy by Wendy Leigh. Wow. This fiction is based on the premise that Marilyn and Jackie started corresponding shortly after the wedding of JFK and Jackie, that they became confidants, and that they continued the correspondence until just before Marilyn’s death. (It also presupposes that JFK and Marilyn were having an affair.) I’m still reeling after finishing this. The author did an incredible amount of research into these women, and they really come alive in all their gorgeousness, vulnerability, strength, and falibility. I’ve always had a soft spot for Marilyn, but I have a new admiration for Jackie, and need to do some reading up on her. This book is among my top of the year, it could easily have been trashy or silly, instead it tells the story of these amazing women, and what could possibly have happened if they came to depend upon each other. I give it highest marks.
Now I’m going to get back in and finish that last story of James’, and then it’s on to Hippolyte’s Island by Barbara Hodgeson. I’ve been meaning to read it for ages, and finally picked it up at the library.

Current total: 97
Just Finished: The Secret Letters of Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy by Wendy Leigh
Next Up: Hippolyte’s Island by Barbara Hodgeson

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