Boy, been a long time since I shared what I've been reading. Let's see......
I am in the midst of two books, both for book club, but one for this month and one for later. Both are captivating, because they have strong narrators. First, for this month, I am reading Cold Flat Junction by Martha Grimes. I had read a few of Martha Grimes' Richard Jury mysteries, but this is not one from that series. This is another "mystery" told in the voice of a 12 year old girl, Emma, who is unravelling the plot of a tragedy that happened years ago in her small town and may have led to a murder in the present. Emma is a wonderful narrator, funny and quirky. I'm not sure that Grimes has maintained the "12 year old voice" completely, but you do like Emma as a character and root for her to find her answers. She approaches nothing head on, and there is a slightly irritating meandering to the book, but I think this is consistent with the presumed age of the narrator. Every 12 year old I've ever known wanders far and wide in telling any story.
The other book I've started is Leif Enger's book, So Brave, Young and Handsome. We read his book Peace Like a River in book club in some previous year and really liked it. We decided to take another stab at Enger with his new book. I have to say it has been a long time since I have been drawn into a book by the first paragraph. It was so good that I had to call my sisterfriend, who is also a fiendish reader, and let her listen to it:
Not to disappoint you, but my troubles are nothing--not for an author, at least. Common blots aside, I have none of the usual Big Artillery: I am not penniless, brilliant, or an orphan; have never been to war, suffered starvation or lashed myself to a mast. My health is adequate, my wife steadfast, my son decent and promising. I am not surrounded by people who don't understand me! In fact most understand me straightaway, for I am and always was an amiable fellow and reliably polite. You, a curious stranger, could walk in this moment; I would offer you coffee and set you at ease. Would we talk pleasantly? Indeed we would, though you'd soon be bored--here on Page One I don't even live in interesting surroundings, such as in a hospital for the insane, or on a tramp steamer, or in Madrid. Later in the proceedings I do promise a tense chase or two and the tang of gunpowder, but here at the outset it's flat old Minnesota and I am sitting on the porch of my comfortable farmhouse, composing the flaccid middle of my seventh novel in five years.
Now, how could you NOT want to read on with a beginning like that? That narrator is Monte Becket and the rest of the book is taken up with a quest with an old train robber who wants to make reconciliation with parts of his past. A failed novelist and an aging train robber heading of on an adventure. It's a premise different from anything I've read lately, and Enger's prose is clear, clean and sweet, evocative of the Minnesota plains where his narrator lives. It's redemption, reconciliation and finding out just who you really are. Plus the west. Can't wait to get further in.
Lately finished? Reed of God by Caryl Houselander. Will talk more about it later, just will leave it with this. If you've not ever read it, or anything by her, go out NOW and get the book. It's that worth it!
How 'bout ya'll?