Wow! This was a great month for reading. I finished 5 books in total, and I gave four of them 4 stars. (The last got a high 3 stars.) Let’s get down to details
I think the book that made me think the most was Jonathan Lethem’s Chronic City. His books are always very challenging, as they are usually not grounded in reality and are full of references and allusions to popular culture that I don’t always get. This novel was an alternate history set in New York City, a very thought-provoking read.
Also thought-provoking was Kazuo Ishiguro’s A Pale View of Hills, which I think was his first novel. Now I have completed all of Ishiguro’s oeuvre, I believe. Like many of his books, the narrator in A Pale View of Hills is untrustworthy and it’s not entirely clear what happened, but the writing is beautifully melancholy.
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger is a very spiritual novel, and it was so well written and such a good story that it may have earned 5 stars from me, except the Christian themes put me off as I didn’t connect to them very strongly. Still, this is a book anyone who loves great stories with child protagonists will enjoy.
I finally tackled Madame Bovary, which I enjoyed very much, if enjoy is the right word for a novel about adultery, bankruptcy and suicide. I’ve been wanting to read more of the classics, but with this one under my belt, I feel satisfied for the time being. At least, I don’t have to be embarrassed about never having read one of the all-time great novels. Flaubert is a little wordy for my tastes, though, which is why I only gave it 4 stars.
Finally, I read Sheri Tepper’s The Gate to Women’s Country, which is a solid read, like all of Tepper’s books. It is set in a post-apocalyptic society where the women live separately from the men. Unfortunately, I thought its feminist message was a tad too heavy-handed and the male characters too one-dimensional, which is why I only gave it 3 stars.
As for the Great Movies I watched this month, they were Vertigo, Groundhog Day and The Manchurian Candidate. (As a new project, I am watching as many of Roger Ebert’s Great Movies as I can, especially those on Netflix Instant Streaming or that I can Tivo off TCM.) I enjoyed them all, but Vertigo‘s depiction of obsession still holds up particularly well. Although I have to say that Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate is downright terrifying.
Reading continues apace. I am almost finished with Starship Troopers and I have just started The Talented Mr. Ripley. Yet I continue to buy many more books than I read. Go figure.
Roundup: 5 books read, 3 movies watched. Click the titles below for my full reviews or reading notes. My rating scale is explained here.