We’re back again, after a short summertime hiatus.
Check out this selection of reviews written by enrollees in SFPL’s Summer Reading Program:
Libba Bray’s book was great, I think, because she was so angry. This is a funny book, and absurd in a Pynchonesque way. Beneath the surface is a mighty list of grievances: about gender roles & identity & orientation, about commercialization & materialism, about stereotypes, about corrupt politics & hypocrisy… Bray is so intent on shining a light in dark corners that the satire has real bite. More Voltaire than Huxley, we are meant to laugh. But we are also supposed to come away with a new desire to live humanely. Five out of five for a funny book that may secretly be important. Check this out!
ROMMEL DRIVES ON DEEP INTO EGYPT
I treasure this slender volume of lyric poems by former San Franciscan, Richard Brautigan. The poems are short, whimsical, and frequently surrealistic. “The Alarm-Colored Shadow of a Frightened Ant” reads in its entirety: “The alarm-colored shadow of a frightened ant/wants to make friends with you, learn all about/your childhood, cry together, come live with/you.” The even shorter “Cellular Coyote” reads: “He’s howling in the pines/at the edge of your fingerprints.” Check this out!
This collection of essays and lectures by the influential American composer John Cage was first published in 1961. The author’s creative and frequently witty prose ranges widely over the fields of music, dance, painting, and literature. Since its publication Silence has been a source of inspiration to generations of artists, musicians, writers, and readers. Even the questions Cage raised in this book continue to influence artistic production. He writes, for example, “Composing’s one thing, performing’s another, listening’s a third. What can they have to do with one another?” I reread this book from time to time, and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the history of the arts post-WWII. Check this out!
This fictional celebration of San Francisco in the 1980s is a novel-in-verse inspired by the example of Alexander Pushkin’s classic Eugene Onegin. Seth’s novel follows the loves and losses of four young professionals—two engineers, a lawyer, and an artist—via a stream of sonnets whose language is by turns sentimental, satirical, lyrical, and compassionate. The author’s vocabulary is dazzling and his resurrection of Pushkin’s meter and rhyme scheme a remarkable feat. Despite its occasional cleverness, the novel tackles serious issues and is emotionally engaging. Seth, who was born in Calcutta,has written a major novel that is also a major work of poetry, as well as the quintessential San Franciscan novel. Check this out!
BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP
S. J. Watson
An exciting novel about memory. To say too much would give away something of the books greatest strength; i.e. what the reader is discovering along with our amnesiac narrator. This discover is done in the long middle section of the book in the form of journals.
This is a first novel, and many of the characters are drawn in sketches because of the narrator’s condition. The setting is often a bit flat as well. The novel may have gone a bit long…. More over, the amnesiac narrator shows up in an article (http://suite101.com/article/6-most-cliched-or-overused-mystery-or-suspense-plot-ideas-a282308) called the “6 most cliched or overused mystery or suspense plots.” Yet, with all of that I gave the book four stars.
Drawbacks and limitations are real, but this is a thrilling ride. The twists and turns of the narrator as she discovers and rediscovers herself are like a rollercoaster – the train that doesn’t take you anywhere but’s fun to ride.
Fans of mystery/thrillers will probably enjoy. Check this out!