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Showing posts from July, 2011

Review: At Home

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I would follow Bill Bryson anywhere. I have followed him on the Appalachian Trail, into the universe, across America, through England and all the way Down Under. He does not fail to delight readers — even when he stays home.

In At Home, the furthest he goes is to the roof.

Bryson literally strolls through his home in a quiet English hamlet, pondering who has come before (and literally how many there are still there, in body if not in spirit) and how they created the space around them.

Many students of history know the kitchen was often separate from the rest of the house, but how it evolved from a sure-fire death trap to today's modern amenities is worth the trip alone. In the kitchen, Bryson considers food and ponders why we eat what we eat — and who in their right mind would think [fill in the blank here] was a good idea for the plate? From wheat to corn, from meat to dairy, from spices to grain, Bryson ponders what we eat, and how it came to be on our plate, rather than in…

What I Didn't Read

Lately, I've been picking up books, just to put them back down. I blame part of that on The Discovery of Witches, which I enjoyed greatly (and will review in the near future).

The rest I blame on bad books.

To be fair, not all of them have been "bad" in the traditional "wish to rip out your eyeballs to save your soul" kind of way, but perhaps unsuitable for the time being:
I knew Game of Thrones was too heavy for my brain right now, and I will pick it up after the library is settled. I already read Geek Love at a different time in my life, when I could handle the story of a family of people purposely bred to be born with bizarre, extreme birth defects. I couldn't wait to read about the Unseen University in Unseen Academicals, but I put it away after a few pages. I blame that on a sinus headache.
Others, however, were. I must be the last person to read The Hunger Games — well, almost read it. After about 20 pages, I had to stop. The lead character was t…

Review: Stranger Things Happen

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I am all about weird. I seek out the weird. However, I think I hit my weird quota with the short story collection Stranger Things Happen.

Kelly Link's collection of short stories goes to New York and beyond. What she does well is spin the yarn: I wasn't sure where the story was going, but I was game to follow Link's lead.

At first.

Then things got weird.

When a story concluded, I honestly had no idea what it meant. I was lost. It had to mean more than just the words on the page, or it would have been a colossal waste of time.

I was transfixed by the first story, "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose," where a man with major memory issues is writing a letter to his wife. As the story unfolded, I was transfixed. Many other storytellers tried to imagine this lost-feeling destination with limited success — but Link had a handle on it. Well, until the end approached, and while I saw where it was going, I didn't like it.

She retold a couple of fairy tales in "…