2006 Books 46 - 50

46. Dogs In The Moonlight by Jay Lake- I almost stopped reading this short story collection after the first two works. They were incredibly strong with atmosphere (especially if you like stories set in the rural areas of Texas), and the characters were as quirky and truly southern as any I've ever read, but those first stories weren't short stories, imo, they were well crafted ideas for stories. But then I hit the first longer story, Oxygen Man, about an environmentally damaged world where people have to pay to breath, and I didn't stop reading until I'd finished the book. All of the stories deal with some form of supernatural or religious being, sometimes friendly, sometimes not, all very original and entertaining.

47. The Marble Quilt by David Leavitt - In this collection of eight short stories and one novella, only two entries stayed with me past the time it took to read them. Although Leavitt is mechanically a masterful writer, for the most part the stories in this collection lacked the intensity and originality that I think are necessary for a really good short stories. The exceptions, the stories that were still bouncing around in my head the day after I read them, were The Infection Scene, a story that weaves a character study of Alfred "Bosie" Douglas with the story of a young man determined to contract HIV that plays off the poison of Bosie's personality (using Bosie's own words from his autobiographies) against the poison of being too romantic; and The Black Box, a story of one man's troublesome journey into the grieving process when his partner is killed in a plane wreck.

48. The Page Turner by David Leavitt A coming of age story wrapped up inside the world of concert pianists. Characters come into the story when they have nothing to add, and go missing at points where you think they would be needed. The setting was interesting, but that's about all I can say for it.

49. A Journal of the Plague Year: 1665 by Daniel Defoe The most interesting thing I learned from this book was in the introduction, that this is in fact a work of fiction. Well researched fiction, but still, fiction written by Defoe almost 60 years after the event took place. I've seen this book sourced in non-fiction works on the Black Death and other epidemics, and never once did I see a foot name clarifying that no one knows how much is truth and how much Defoe made up. Once you get used to the excess verbiage of the time period, it's a fascinating read.

50. Pale Horse, Pale Rider; Three Short Novels by Katherine Anne Porter Three distinctly different stories, told in three distinct voices. The first story, Old Mortality deals with how childhood distorts our view of our families, the second, Noon Wine is about the changes a hired hand makes in the lives of a farm family (and yet, the hired hand is barely a character in the story), and the title piece about a young woman's brief love affair during the time of influenza and WWI. All of the stories are of the sneaky, get under your skin type.

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