>> 23 January 2015
Seriously, y'all. My kingdom for a love story!! Now we go to Argentina, Singapore, and Iceland.
SET: A Love Story, Karen Dodson
I liked this book when I thought it was a true story. I'm not sure why I thought this, but I gave it a lot of passes that I normally wouldn't have, because I thought it was true. It reads like a first-person account of living an unremarkable and emotionally stunted life and having that life transformed by a change of location. I had assumed, from the writing, that the author had never written anything before, and was charmed that she was so intent on recording her story. Then I finished the book and realized that the author was not the person in the story, and I was angry. Things began to fall into place. Of course the protagonist works as a 'journalist' for a big paper in Chicago... in 2014. Of course she falls in love with the first person who is nice to her. Of course she just leaves behind her life to go and be with him. What about visas? What about health insurance? What about credit card payments and loans and 401Ks? Why do you and your 'love' have such awkward and short conversations? What is wrong with you? Turns out there was nothing wrong with the character, just the writer. FICTION. Tricked. Patagonia sounds pretty amazing though- I had no idea there were glaciers there!
Feels: annoyed, puzzled, annoyed, puzzled, meh
The Moonlight Palace, Liz Rosenberg
Few stories have drawn me in as completely as this one did. Many fiction authors write through the first person view of their characters, but still reserve their role as omniscient explainer. This book is nearly entirely told in the voice of a mature but young girl; even real historical events are related through her lens and her understanding. It made me much more sympathetic to her as she failed to see her life unfolding around here and failed to understand the people in it. There is something universally relatable to her difficult position; the future looms over her family just as oppressively as the crumbling palace in which they lives. The past is tangled and complicated, just as their relationships with each other have become. My favorite character is the maternal grandmother, Nei Nei Down, because she is everything a 17-year-old girl needs: stern, direct, wise, loving, and infinitely devoted to her family. Set against the backdrop of 1920s Singapore, a country I'm mildly obsessed with, it was a beautifully written, immersive and emotionally challenging book. I devoured every word an I actually want to read it again. Rare.
Feels: sympathy, nostalgia, sad, frustrated, relieved
For 91 Days in Iceland, Michael Powell
Well, I knew I would eventually end up accidentally reading a travel guide. At least this one was well-researched. If you're planning on making a trip to Iceland within the next few years, this is probably you best resource for first-hand reviews of literally everything there is to do and see in Iceland. This couple apparently goes around to various countries and lives there for 3 months while they explore, which is pretty cool. I spent a lot of time thinking about how much a life like that must cost, but was able to ignore the expenses by looking at the accompanying photos of the eerie and vast Icelandic landscape. While charmingly written, I never got the sense that the author developed much of an affection for Iceland, and he sometimes gets a little fussy about things that I wouldn't have even thought about (for example, his complaints that other patrons in the Blue Lagoon, an outdoor pool that gets its name and color from an industrial runoff accident, might not be 'hygienic'... seriously?). Maybe I'm just cranky because I actually like fish jerky, which he describes unfavorably. His descriptions of people are deeply impersonal and I don't thing I recall him having made a single Icelandic friend. Three months, dude, come on! Maybe it's because he isn't shy about his dislike of children or his constant dismay at the smallness of the towns. On the upside, I really, really want to go spend about a month in Iceland now.
Feels: dry, vaguely amused, vaguely annoyed, unfulfilled