Monday, July 01, 2013

Two Recent Reads...

First of all, Happy Canada Day, to all my Canadian friends. All I can say is, it is so nice to not be at work today!
Just a few words about two books I've recently read, prefaced with a proviso:
I've been criticized from time to time [M, you know who you are!] for "ALWAYS" gushing about how much I loved a book! 

So... let me diverge from such alleged predictability by saying I did not really care that much for Peter Carey's latest novel, The Chemistry of Tears
And I hate to admit that, because I really love Carey as an author. But this one failed to really resonate with me.
It's the story of young Catherine, a museum conservator, who finds out that her boss has died. They were lovers. Understandably, the news is devastating, especially as she cannot fully express her grief since the affair was unknown [or so she assumes] to her co-workers. Her new supervisor, Eric, gives her a special assignment in an attempt to assuage her grief. She is commissioned to basically reconstruct, with the help of an intern, an automaton of a duck. It turns out to actually be a swan. Catherine becomes obsessed with the history of the original story of the duck/swan, as discovered in journals that accompanied the shipment of the unassembled pieces. 
I found the novel to be a bit confusing and unrewarding. Perhaps the fault is in me, but nevertheless, I would say that reading everything else by this author [which I almost have done] will be more fun than reading this one.
Then there is Don DeLillo. Another author I generally revere.
This book, The Angel Esmeralda contains nine short stories written between 1979 and 2011. Most of them are really terrific, but [CAUTION] all of them are a bit depressing. Not uplifting. DeLillo is a master at communicating, through his writings, the difficulties of human relationships. The tension between anonymity and familiarity, and these stories almost without exception deal in one way or another with that struggle. They are the work of a genius. So understated, so spare.
Thing is, as always with Don DeLillo -- put your thinking cap on. If your brain is on auto-pilot you are going to go careening right into the nearest wall.
Now, having said all this, I close with a very short videoclip of Canada's flying team, The Snowbirds -- zooming past my apartment earlier this afternoon. I was on the phone at the time and missed a previous flypast that nearly went right through my actual apartment. It was so awesome. Kennedy is still under the bed somewhere wondering if WW III is over. Poor boy! He still has to deal with the trauma of the fireworks tonight!

                         HAPPY CANADA DAY, CANADA!
                                            Thank you for a much needed day off!


Sam Sattler said...

Happy Canada Day, Dave. I hope it's relatively cool in your part of the world.

Those are two of my favorite writers, so I hate to hear that the Carey book didn't work well for you. They are both on my TBR list at the moment, so thanks for the reviews.

Melwyk said...

Happy Canada Day to you too :) I agree with you about the Carey, unfortunately.

Stefanie said...

Hope you had a happy Canada Day! What a view from your apartment!

Too bad about the Carey being a bit disappointing. DeLillo sounds good though. You know, I've yet to read anything by him though I have a couple of his books on my shelves. Saving them for just the right time I suppose :)