Sunday, March 9, 2008

Book Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Blurb on the back of the book, written by Stephen King: "To say this is a terrific debut novel is really too mild. I haven't read such a relentlessly creepy family saga since John Farris's All Heads Turn as the Hunt Goes By, and that was thirty years ago, give or take. Sharp Objects isn't one of those scare-and-retreat books; its effect is cumulative. I found myself dreading the last thirty pages or so but was helpless to stop turning them. Then, after the lights were out, the story just stayed there in my head, coiled and hissing, like a snake in a cave. An admirably nasty piece of work, elevated by sharp writing and sharper insights."

Impressive. For a first novel, it's quite incredible. I think Stephen King might be overstating it just a wee bit, but then again, I can't wait until she comes out with her next book. Yes, it's pretty creepy, but not in a unrealistic kind of way. It's psychologically creepy. And, being a mental health worker, I found it totally, completely fascinating. And I don't think you'd have to be in the field to think so.

I kind of feel the same way about Gillian Flynn as I do about Stephen King. How can a normal person come up with this creepy stuff?? She says in her acknowledgements that no one in her family is remotely like this family. mmm-hmm. She's got quite the imagination then.

The Oakland newspaper groups are doing a monthly book club. This is their pick this month and I'm hoping to be able to attend the discussion at my local book store. I crave a real life book club and just haven't been able to make it happen, so maybe this will be a good substitute. It's great. If you have the courage, read it.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Book Review: Zoli by Colum McCann

Heaven knows why this wasn't the most popular book of 2006. It is positively delicious and everyone should read it!! It is a great saga of a Gypsy woman (it seems the word Gypsy is or can be offensive and the more politically correct way to refer to them is Roma). It's a lifestyle that has always interested me. For many years I've had "Bury Me Standing" on my To Be Read list, and Colum McCann says in the postscript that he was inspired to write this novel from that one.

When I went to get this cover image off Powells website, it was one of their staff picks. The staff member who picked it said:

Open Zoli to just about any page and you'll find a passage worth reading two or three times. The prose is gorgeous, the story remarkable — characters practically leap out from the bindings. McCann's novel reminded me why I read fiction: to be transported, completely and without hesitation, into the lives of strangers. It belongs on a shelf alongside Michael Ondaatje's best work.

Yeah, ok, I agree with all that. You should read this book. On another note, some people on the Amazon reviews didn't like it because they couldn't figure out who was narrating each time there was a new section. I agree, it does take a page or two to figure out who the voice of the narrator is when he starts a new section. Ok, maybe that's a drawback, but once I knew that, it didn't bother me as much. The only other criticism that I found, and that I partially agree with, is that the book doesn't give enough background -- it assumes you know something about Roma history. Well, I don't, and I still loved the book. Maybe now I'll read "Bury Me Standing" and get more of the background.