Monday, September 24, 2007

Three Books

I have been a bad blogger. I have read three books and not written a word about them. I can not even claim to be too busy, maybe just lazy. Ah well, what's a woman to do?

First, The Book Borrower by Alice Mattison. I read this for my book group. It was pretty much panned by all of us. It is the story of two women in New York who become friends and it follows that friendship over decades. The title comes from a book loaned from one to the other on their first meeting. There is a novel within a novel in this book and the interior novel is called Trolley Girls. The reason this book was mostly disliked by my group was that we all found the characters pretty unlikable. Not enough to be villains you love to hate, but enough that it was hard to relate to any of them. Not recommended.

The second book is also a book club selection which we will be discussing next month. I ripped through this book in a day. How to be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward. This is the story of two sisters who are dealing a decade after it happened with the disappearance of their little sister. The family was dysfunctional to begin with and the loss of the youngest sister spiraled them further into destructive behaviors. When the mother thinks she has found a photo of the missing sister, all grown up, one of the girls goes west to find her. The plot is sort of unreal, but still these are people that I cared about and it was a good read.

Finally, Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. When you live in Wisconsin and Illinois, you are to some degree bound to know about Frank Lloyd Wright and his work and life. This is the story (fictionalized) of what was perhaps his greatest love affair with the married Mamah Borthwick Cheney. It was the scandal of the day and reporters followed the couple to Europe and harassed their families back in Illinois. The story focuses on Mamah who was a feminist and translator of Swedish feminist Ellen Key's books and essays. The famous Taliesin built in Spring Green, Wisconsin was where Frank and Mamah lived until a major tragedy struck.

I really liked this book. It puts a very personal face on the legend that is Frank Lloyd Wright and there was much here that I didn't know. A very worthwhile read.

Friday, September 07, 2007

I've Heard the Vultures Singing by Lucia Perillo

Lucia Perillo is a poet. That is how I came to know her and I love her work. When this new title came out, I was expecting poetry. I was surprised to get a book of essays. And delighted.

Perillo has MS as do I. This book explores what it is like to deal with a debilitating disease and the losses caused by that disease, especially when that person was so independent. Perillo used to work as a naturalist and spend huge amounts of time alone, outdoors, doing very physical things. Now she is in a wheelchair. Not that this book is a whine, more of an explanation with some bitching thrown in for good measure.

I kept reading parts aloud to my husband prefaced with, "wow, she really gets this right, this is exactly how I feel."

And maybe that is why I liked this book so well. She gets it right. But that is according to me. Our experiences are similar. Someone else with MS might feel completely different. A disease like MS with so many permutations is hard to pin down. And personality plays such a big role in how a person deals with the day to day crap of it all.

All that aside though, Perillo, is amusing and charming and a little sad and a total pleasure to read. Get this book!