Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Fishtailing Out of February OR I Don't Think Snow

 Yeah, I'm done with winter. You'd think that my being a December baby and my birth kicking off Snowmageddon 61-62 that I would love a snow globe world, but no. And where do I live? The Midwest! I want to castigate myself for my geographical shortsightedness, but my teeth are chattering too badly. Let's talk about books instead.

What I read:

Who Were Stanley and Livingstone? - Jim Gigliotti. Nonfiction. A dual biography of the internationally famous British scientist who went missing and the intrepid American journalist who set out to find him.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette - Maria Semple. Novel. I really wasn't getting along with this book at all. It seemed brittle. Glib. Overly aware of its own cleverness. Then I read somewhere that Semple wrote for Arrested Development, and that helped. I began to see Elgie, Bernadette, Bee, and the other characters as extensions of the Bluth clan. But I have one last hangnail annoyance: Why doesn't the title have a question mark? I should have brought that up in book group. (More about book group later. Favorable impression!)

Chasing the Last Laugh - Richard Zacks. Nonfiction. I went down a sad little rabbit hole after finishing this book. I found articles online about a woman named Susan Bailey who had memories as a child that led her to believe that she was the secret great-granddaughter of Mark Twain, and even wrote a book about it. I was pleased because I'd always felt bad that Mark Twain's direct descendant line died out back in 1966 when his granddaughter, Nina died (presumably) childless. But then some Twainite who was really into genealogy wrote a lengthy paper disproving Susan Bailey's claims, and that seemed to put an end to the discussion. Feeling deflated, I ranged between Well, thanks for clearing that up and You asshole.

Garbo - Robert Gottlieb. Biography. Not just a biography, but an exhaustive one. I don't think I'll ever really be able to enjoy a biography again if the biographer isn't madly obsessive. This beautiful volume explores Garbo's early life and career in Sweden, and analyzes her US film career in great depth. There is also a large section of impressions by her contemporaries and much discussion of her abrupt departure from films and into a life where safeguarding her privacy became Job One. From reading Garbo, I got some good ideas for the wishlist. (See below.)

What I'm reading:

The Lincoln Highway - Amor Towles. Novel. Audiobook. I'm not sure how I feel about Towles' latest book. Right now, it's meandering along. Of course, it's meandering with purpose, but still meandering.  I'm engaged enough to be worried/curious about how things will turn out for the main characters, but I did swear at the narrator when the book made another hard left in the narrative. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think The Lincoln Highway will replace Towles' earlier novel Rules of Civility in my affections.

And Never Let Her Go - Ann Rule. True Crime. This is about the 1996 murder of Anne Marie Fahey, a 30-year-old woman who was an administrative assistant to the governor of Delaware. She was involved with Thomas Capano, who was wealthy, successful and also in the upper echelons of politics and business. Although married with four children, he was reluctant to let Anne Marie pursue a future without him. When his charm didn't work, he killed her. This is the first Ann Rule book I've read since Bitter Harvest, and I'd forgotten how she has a tendency to overwrite, but it's so compelling. I can't stop reading.

What I want to read:

What Were The Salem Witch Trials? - Joan Holub. Nonfiction.

Aru Shah and The End of Time - Roshani Chokshi. YA Fiction. This is the next pick for book group. Not really my cup of tea, but I enjoyed my first book club meeting in years, and want very much to continue. The leader, Sarah, is enthusiastic and well-prepared. I knew her when she worked at Reader's World. When we talked, it was like cartoon characters who have big hearts dancing in their eyes, except in our case, it was books dancing.

Dust Bowl Girls - Lydia Reeder. Nonfiction. Women's basketball. Barnstorming. 1930s. Must read. I've been needing a Dust Bowl-themed palate cleanser since I read the abysmal The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah last year.

Change Lobsters and Dance - Lilli Palmer. Memoir. An excerpt from Palmer's memoir was featured in Garbo. I loved her clear and lively writing.

James Harvey wrote about film, and in Garbo, Robert Gottleib included Harvey's gorgeous essay about Camille. I immediately wanted to go find all three of his books:

Watching Them Be: Star Presence on the Screen From Garbo to Balthazar

Romantic Comedy in Hollywood

Movie Love in the Fifties

It's supposed to snow again tomorrow. I see myself curled up on the couch with a book and a chai tea latte.

1 comment:

Care said...

OH. lovely thoughts about books. Glad your book club experiences are a WIN.