2006 Books 11 - 15

11. The Front Runner by Patricia Nell WarrenWritten and set in the late 1970's, this book has a very dated feeling to it, and I thought of it as a period work. But, the further I got into it, I realized that not a whole lot has changed, that if the events of the story (young world class track star falls in love with and marries his coach) happened today, it possibly could play out the same way. That's sad, but it makes it a book relevant for our time, imo. The story-teller (the coach) get a little wordy at times, especially when explaining details of the politics and the homophobia of the AAU, but there are a lot of beautiful passages too, that make it the love story that the cover advertises it to be.

12. The Accidental by Ali SmithThis is the first Mann Booker shortlist book I've been disappointed in. (Of course, I haven't read them all, so maybe that's not saying much.) A young woman shows up at the holiday home of a family, and because no one in this family really talks to each other, she's able to stay. The story is told in five person first person - the four family members and a strange fifth voice that drops in occasionally to do a stream of consciousness thing that escaped my interest. In my opinion, the four family members don't speak in distinctive voices, so that you have to read the first page or so of every paragraph for a clue who's talking. Also, Ms. Smith's of that group that doesn't use quotation marks, and in a book with so little dialog, that annoyed me. It's not a bad book, the characters all have interesting backstories, but what they're going through in this book isn't all that interesting.

13. Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia -I'm counting this as broccoli, because it wasn't probably better for me than the amount of enjoyment it gave me, if that makes any sense. It's an epic book, a little too epic, in my opinion. There characters are drawn in great detail, nothing happens in the lives of the three main characters that we don't know about. The sense of place is what kept me reading - I really felt that I was there in there with them sweltering in the sun, enjoying the ocean breezes, suffering the heart breaks.

14. Playmaker by Thomas Keneally -Written by the man who brought us "Schindler's List", this is slightly lighter fare. The book takes place in very early colonial Australia, as fascinating place as I've ever read about. One of the men in charge of the prison colony has been given the unlikely (but true) order to stage Anton Checkhov's "The Seagull", using prisoners as his actors. Every single character in this story is worthy of having a book to themselves. (You don't have to be familiar with "The Seagull" to enjoy this work, as the characters explain the whole plot, but it helps to have some knowledge of the tone of Checkhov's works."

15. Serpent Girl by Matthew Carnahan I read this as research, otherwise I would have stopped about 10 pages in. Mr. Carnahan may have a style that passes as modern, but I thought the writing was amateurish and self-consciously "cool". If you're looking for an insider's view of life working in a carnival, it's a fast read with some good information. Otherwise, I couldn't recommend it.

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