Tuesday, June 30, 2009

where you come for your creep

Summer began beautifully.

An anniversary.

Vacation Church School for my kids.

A dandy cold.

If only I was so cute. No, when I catch some silly summer cold, I take to my bed. I take to my bed while my kids whine and complain about my utter lameness. I take to my bed while my kids whine and complain about my utter lameness while I read to the colony of zits that took up residence on my cheek like it's 1989 and I'm contemplating colleges.

At least I've had some creepy companions until I rose from my tissues.
Part bodice ripper - at least according to the reviews I read, after listening to A Reliable Wife in short order - part Gothic tale set in the never ending white Wisconsin winter, I loved this story from beginning to end. Ralph Pruitt places an ad for a reliable wife and opens up his world to the enchanting Katherine Land, reawakening past demons and holding my attention with spellbinding prose.

Remember when I raved about Gillian Flynn's debut novel, Sharp Objects? (Just smile and nod for the nice lady if you're new around here.) She came out swinging with her second novel, Dark Places, and proved you can too impress your readers after your first book is a huge success. Most reviews I've read are quick to point out that the protagonist is dark and unlikeable, but I'm tired of the Oprah book club approved, cookie-cutter Plucky Pollyannas. Show me someone steeped in tragedy and give me the truth: They damaged and altered, and I don't mind it a bit.

And that leaves me with Knockemstiff, a collection of overlapping short stories based on the resilient and troubled residents of Small Town America. After each perfectly crafted piece, I would pause and read the back flap again and sigh. Pollock grew up in Knockemstiff, quitting high school to work in a meat packing factory and later spent 30 years working in the town's paper mill. The stories are bleak, and full of longing and desperation. Beautiful. I can only hope he has many more tales to spill.


katydidnot said...

um, so, i'll be right back to comment after i replace the drivel on my night table with something more substantive from your list.

phd in yogurtry said...

ooh, I do love book reviews.

do you recommend reading flynn's "sharp objects" first?

I have a mental block when it comes to short stories. I guess I like sinking my teeth into novels. I don't like it when short stories end, moving right onto the next. Thought short stories might be good for taking to the swimming pool or other half day jaunts.

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

I liked that some of the stories linked, told from different characters' POV.

Flynn's books are unrelated, so it really doesn't matter which one you read first.

Stephanie Breuner said...

Are these the books I saw you pick up from the library the other day or ones you just returned? I saw you had a big stack of holds (just like I did, but mine were all picture books).

Jenn @ youknow... that blog? said...

Hrm. The only thing on my nightstand right now is an old copy of "O" magazine and some Vicks Vaporub. And not because I'm sick, either - I just love the smell of that stuff. Yeah I know I'm odd.

Hope you're feeling better soon!

JCK said...

Oh, those sound like delicious reads for when you're out for the count. Thanks for the reviews. It's effective. I just wrote them all down to investigate.

Suzanne said...

Ooooh, thank you, thank you. I am looking for something a little more poetic and flowy (though just as dark) after just finishing a three-in-a-row Stephen King jag.

stephanie (bad mom) said...

I must start reading faster; what is wrong with me??

Will go now and begin something smart.