| Posted by Bel | The time is 3.02pm here in Wellington NZ |
I have read a stack of books over the last month or so and can easily recommend them all (ok, most of them).
(Click to view larger if you wish, but it's a crappy photo)
Books pictured, from top left, clockwise:
- Breath a novel by Australian Tim Winton
- The Only Girl In The Car a memoir about teenagehood by former teenager Kathy Dobie
- When You Are Engulfed In Flames essays by David Sedaris
- Frida the biography by Hayden Herrera upon which the film was based
- Dear Dodie a biography on author Dodie Smith by Valerie Grove
- My Invented Country memoirs by author Isabel Allende
Also pictured: "Bel's Cool Book Mark!" a cool bookmark that I own.
Breath a novel by Australian Tim Winton
I found this engaging to read but ultimately unsatisfying. The book's structure has most of the narrative told in retrospective flashback, giving the impression that the shadowy present-day events will be illuminated by the escalating drama of the protagonist's teenage years.
Instead, everything peters out, much like one of the oft-described waves in this book. The descriptive language is wonderful - and anyone who enjoys the ocean will appreciate Winton's writing.
The Only Girl In The Car a memoir about teenagehood by former teenager Kathy Dobie
Dobie's teenage sexuality becomes a threat to those around her as she uses her appeal to cross over to the other side of the tracks in her small town. In a sickening and horribly foreshadowed turn of events, the threat is turned back upon her when she is gang raped in the back of one of those cars which seemed to offer escape.
This happens late in the book, the first two-thirds detailing her commonplace childhood with a busy family and then her deliberate procurement of a "reputation". The naivety of the teenage mindset is forcefully brought to life, but this might not be something you want to relive.
When You Are Engulfed In Flames essays by David Sedaris
Highly recommended. Laugh out loud funny. Read aloud to other people funny. Think about when you are elsewhere and giggle for seemingly no reason funny.
My highlights were: how he walks slow and his partner walks fast and it always looks like he is trying to run away from him; the external catheter bit; refusing to wear glasses; how his cough lozenge falls out of his mouth and onto the grouchy sleeping lady sitting next to him in the airplane (I thought you would enjoy that Lou!).
Frida the biography by Hayden Herrera upon which the film was based
This is a big biography and it was used as the main reference for the film starring (and produced by) Salma Hayek. It has lots of photos and reproductions of some paintings. The text quotes from many of Frida Kahlo's letters, letting her own (vibrant, funny, sarcastic, witty) voice tell the story.
If you are going to read up on Frida Kahlo, this is the book.
Dear Dodie a biography on author Dodie Smith by Valerie Grove
Another example of a great, definitive biography. Dodie Smith is the author of one of my all-time favourite books, I Capture The Castle, but also wrote 101 Dalmatians and kicked off her career as a wildly successful playwright when in her 20s. Her life in the UK and the US and the life-long dedication of her husband all make for very interesting reading.
Grove also had the advantage of Smith's extensive personal writings - she kept journals like a mofo and is estimated to have written around a million words about her own day-to-day life. Her personality traits shine through - such as keeping a blacklist of writers who mistreated animals in their books and refusing to read their work!
My Invented Country memoirs by author Isabel Allende
Author of another all-time favourite, The House of the Spirits. The house itself is such a central character in that book, it was fascinating to read about the real world experiences that went into creating it on the page.
Allende is very funny and I found her non-fiction writing just as evocative as her fiction. Her passion for her country (home and adopted) and for her family (ancestral and immediate) makes for captivating reading.