Since takeoff from North Carolina, I have inhaled no less than five novels. I might have mentioned, I’m an avid reader when there are no papers to write or articles to have made mental commentary on for class. And, let’s be real, I’ve been killing time so I didn’t have to start what I promised to my self I would do: read War and Peace. Thogh, as you know from yesterday’s update, I have now begun perusing its pages to uncover the illness of Anna Pavlovna…and you thought I had only said I’d started to appease your harsh criticisms of my intlelect! Nay, ye scurvey dogs, I speak true! A plague o’ both your platoons!
In my literary procrastination, I have consumed some excellently entertaining literature. Not Tolstoy, but a good Young Adult fiction cleansing is good even for the academic soul. Empties out the facts and fills the mind with creativity when a pensieve isn’t handy. And, in the spirit of creative writing and desire to share good reads, I now present to you:
FIVE BOOK REVIEWS IN FIVE PARAGRAPHS.
Book #1: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (5 out of 10) read on the plane
Okay, so I’m loyal to Dessen because she is, after all, from Chapel Hill. And a good chick lit book is always welcome, but I have to say compared to The Truth About Forever this particular piece was sub-par. The structure was excellent, the characters believable as always, and the leading man just as desirable as ever (he is a radio DJ…can we say dream man for la lizzie?). Perhaps because my angsty adolescence has nearly had its sunset, I found the storyline a little irrelevant and a lot of silliness. To be fair, I was engrossed for the three hours it took for me to read it on the flight, but even so it merely lived up to my expectations without blowing them out of the water. Good for a one-time read as a chickling, but not for this womanly lit-seeker. I suppose I should more freely admit that, were I fifteen and still pining away for boys, this would have been the best ever…even if a dragon or time-traveling machine would have spiced things up a little.
Book #2: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (9.0) read in Kampala
If you do not know who Sedaris is, you need to stop reading right now and take yourself over to the public library and check out ANYTHING by this man. He’s a riot, to make a brash understatement; but you can read reviews to hear glowing praise of his wit. What I found especially appealing and enthralling about this literary work was his recollection of growing up in Raleigh, NC. Having spent the better part of my life living an hour away from the state capital of Raleigh, I knew many of the places he mentioned and all the wry remarks about Mountain Dew and snuff. Needless to say, I was rolling the whole read through, even if his consumption of meth kind of scared the giggle out of me.
Book #3: The Pirate’s Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson (8.0) read in Kampala, which provided a marvelous, real-world backdrop of Lake Victoria and jungle-bush to visualize Jamaica
Not what I expected, but supremely well written and incredibly well-paced. The title, which misdirected me to believe the tale was one surrounding one of my favorite subjects- pirates!- but in fact was about Jamaica from the forties to the mid-seventies. The plot itself surrounds, at first, a young girl named Ida who, despite her youth, begins to fall for the (actually real!) actor Errol Flynn. The story both follows her personal journey, but is more so a dialectic of race politics in Jamaica before and after independence, told through the lens of this vibrantly written narrative. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, even if it lacked clashing ships and battles in the Pacific.
Book #4: The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.C. King (8.5) read in Kampala
This, however, was the exact kind of swashbuckling feminist yarn I was yearning for. While King’s writing style certainly could have used some refining, her inventive tale about a teenage Irish pirate queen, Emer Morrisey, doomed to live the life of 100 dogs as punishment for the murder of her sworn enemy. When she awakes, 100 dog lives later, she is in 1970s small-town Pennsylvania…with all of her memories in tact. There are three interwoven narratives in the book; the story of how Emer became a pirate (my personal favorite), some anecdotes from her dog years; and the story of how Saffron, her post-dog-human-form has set out on a quest to recover Emer’s incredible buried treasure. I loved every page of this wry, fast-paced, and compelling novel. Its unusual structure and element of fantasy augmented what could have merely been an excellent piratica; it is now that and an innovative and witty tale. Highly recommended!
Book #5: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (9.4) read in Lira & Kotido
I literally could not put this particular piece of literature down; the wit, the style, the lush and extremely accurate South Carolinian setting laid the foundation for a remarkable spun tale rich with adult themes meshed, beautifully, with childhood coming-of-age. Monk’s characters were believable, the plot mostly convincing, and the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement in America so wonderful. The storytelling capability exuded by Monk is really something to marvel at. The whole way through I was rooting for Lily, even if once again I’d found myself a book where the main character was caught in a web of lies. Seriously people, tell the damn truth and in the end things WILL work out. If everyone was honest with themselves and each other, Lordy would the world run smoother. At any rate, I highly, highly recommend this book and am bent on seeing the film as soon as possible!
current jam: “it won’t be long” by the beatles, but the version performed by evan rachel wood (who is from raleigh!!) from across the universe
best thing in my life right now: i just read, on the whole, five marvelous novels. life is swell!
pages read: 17!!
fantas consumed: still 5.