Sunday 24 June 2007

Three finished over the weekend

Finished June 24
This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M.Homes
I loved this book. The main character, Richard Novak is a fifty-five year old divored man who makes a living trading stocks from home. He manages his life with a full-time housekeeper, a nutritionist, a trainer, and a masseuse. The book begins when he has an attack of intense pain that takes him to the hospital emergency room. As he begins to notice what is going on around him and come back to life in a sense, many more things begin to happen. A sinkhole starts on the hill outside his house. He meets people he may never have met in his life before the pain and tries to reconnect with his family. On his way home from the hospital, he stops at a donut shop and meets the owner Amhil, whose enthusiasm gathers him into an unlikely friendship. In helping a little girl rescue her horse from a sinkhole he meets the famous actor who lives across the street from him. He finds himself becoming involved in others' lives and assisting them in making new starts as well. This is a great book and I could hardly put it down. I can't help wondering what happens next to everyone.

Finished June 23
Falling Man by Don DeLillo
This is a novel of the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Keith is a man who worked in the towers. He finds refuge in the home of his estranged wife and son, but also in sharing the events of the escape from the towers with another escapee, Florence whose briefcase he ended up bringing with him out of the building. He remains emotionally detached from all of them and ends up in a nomadic existence, living a solitary life of his own making.
Lianne, his estranged wife has accepted him back into the apartment and her bed, but still isn't sure of where their relationship is going.
Justin we see from their point of view only, a child disturbed by the attack, looking at the sky for signs of more planes, retreating into a world where he uses only monosyllabic words.
There are also choppy insertions from one of the terrorists, first from Germany where they are training mentally for the attack, then from Florida where they are taking flight training, and finally from the plane itself. These don't seem to relate to the rest of the story and don't fit well. I don't think they add anything.
For those characters dealing with the aftermath, the struggle to make sense of their lives and their futures is an ongoing one, with moments of enlightenment.

Finished June 22
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
I listened to the unabridged audio with Atossa Leoni reading. I found it utterly engrossing. You hear the story first from the point of view of Mariam, a girl from Herat born out of wedlock (a haromi) and married at 15 to a much older man from Kabul. The next narrator is a young Kabul girl, Laila, who is left an orphan after a bombing in Kabul. She becomes the second wife of the same man Mariam married. The two women have very different backgrounds, and very different attitudes but become very close. The events taking place in Afghanistan, and particularly in Kabul over the years that the story takes place are made vivid as part of the story. As the women struggle with their situation and eventually escape their husband I found myself caring a lot about them. Kabul became more real as a city home to many as the daily struggles are interactions are recounted along with the larger events. The horrific decrees of the Taliban (any woman caught wearing nail polish will have a finger removed stays with me) and the struggles of the inhabitants to survive in a war zone is made very real. The emotions of both women and their thought processes are given very realistically. I absolutely loved this book.

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