070) The Blot by Tom Neely, finished August 6
    Look around the internet. Everyone is perplexed by this book. I've read it twice and, well, I'm mystified. But that lack of intellectual slapdown means I appreciate the book more as a painting than a story. I get that the woman is some sort of godlike creature and arriving at happiness requires passage through suffering, but questions of sin and love and community are not easily parsed. I recommend the book with only one reservation: cartoon nudity. Consider yourself advised. The Blot a very short time indeed

069) Strange Stories for Strange Kids edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, finished August 6
    The Big O gave this book to me and it's great. A little clubbish maybe, but good. A good set of comics for us to read together. Just as soon as he gets back from the mountains. (And I really need to find some more of Crockett Johnson's Barnaby.....) Barnaby and Mr. O'Malley three days

068) Survival Rates by Mary Clyde, finished July 30
    I read the first half of this book until 3am on a night I couldn't sleep. It was good. The first few stories built a beautiful box, then opened it, but the stories ended before I got to see what was inside. Frustrating. "Victor's Funeral Urn" broke that pattern and with it my attitude towards the stories changes. Mary Clyde's Survival RatesThe collection in similar in theme and intimacy to Jhumpa Lahiri's Pulitzer Prize-winner. Only instead of starring Indian-Americans it features Southwestern Americans, including some Mormons. (Clyde is LDS herself.) I started Lahiri's book after Survival Rates, but it went back to the library before I could finish it. Too bad. Good book. Anyway, Clyde's book is good stuff. Not precisely of my taste, but an excellent example of its type. If you, like me, have a chance to grab it for fifty cents, do it. maybe two weeks

067) A Week in October by Elizabeth Subercaseaux, translated by Marina Harss, finished July 29
    This book was not good. It wasn't bad either. The best thing is that my review copy had a much better cover than the hardcover:

    hardback review copy

    Good thing:
      Interesting form (chapters alternate between an autobiographical account written by a dying woman and her husband as he reads it and wonders how true it is)
    Bad thing:
      The reading sections are horribly dull--some consist entirely of the husband having a sudden urge to wake up his wife and ask if it's all true. Over and over again.
    I try to make allowances for books in translation, but the fact is that sometimes the problems are plainly not the translator's fault, while the things I liked best about the book could be her doing. Which isn't to say the book is terrible. But it has a cheap trick ending (which, by virtue of its existence, was not surprising) and is filled with that weird modern nihilism which makes things so little fun to read. Which isn't too say I didn't like it (though I didn't). Which isn't to I do like it (though I do). I am whelmed with ambivalence. I wish the list of good things and the list of bad things would tip one direction or the other, but I can't care enough to write it out. For what it's worth. couple weeks

066) Lehi in the Desert & The World of the Jaredites by Hugh Nibley, Ph. D., finished July 29
    I've been wanting to read the Jaredite portion of the books for years and years and years, but I have to say the Lehi half was much more interesting and compelling. I don't know how well Nibley's research has held up (one if his own tenets is that constant discoveries require constant reappraisals) but this was a fascinating read and well worth the time spent with it. Go find a copy. (There's one in our ward library if you're local.) eight months


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