Game of Thrones returns. After reviewing the last two episodes of gory wars, exploding bodies, and dogs’ ravenous dinner of Ramsay, Season 7 began. It couldn’t get grosser, could it? Oh yes. How does a library become a cesspool. Literally. There are tomes and turds galore. And.
Speaking of bad reads. Leaving Lucy Pear, Solomon’s “mother load” touted by WaPo, is a dud.
From sweet to serious, here’s what’s on the ‘to read’ Summer Book Treks list:
The Heirs, Susan Rieger
Leaving Lucy Pear, Anna Solomon
Serious Sweet, A.L. Kennedy
The Long Drop, Denise Mina
The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry
The Sellout, Paul Beatty
Swimming Lessons, Claire Fuller
TV: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is back. Tituss Burgess dominates. Maybe too much this season. House of Cards. Needs two views. After second watch, some of the plot and character deficits are filled in better. But. Still. Uneven writing this year. Frank & Claire remain compelling. Speaking of Kevin Spacey. Fun host of the otherwise lackluster Tony’s.
Book Treks. 2011 – 2017.
This summer try The Honeymoon about George Eliot, The Last Painting of Sara De Vos, The Woman on the Stairs, A Gentleman in Moscow, Swans of Fifth Avenue, Paley’s & Capote.
The Night Ocean, by Paul La Farge. I’m not sure. It kept me rapt. Author clearly had lots of things to work through. Personally. Maybe. Literarily many unfinished stories found their way into this dense work. Sprawling disjointed tales of several complex people in different times and places. Spaces. Told from a woman’s point of view, Marina the shrink, working out her own issues. The author gave her an authentic voice. It begins as her husband Charlie disappears into Agawam Lake in the Berkshires. H.S. Lovecraftian fandom less clear. More context necessary for those not acquainted with this cult of science-fiction-horror genre. Nonetheless. Worth the meandering page-turning journey. Lots to think about. La Farge’s New Yorker view.
Speaking of mind-bending. Twin Peaks so far is a self-indulgent David Lynchian acid trip with no redeeming plot value. Vomitaceous. Literally.
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, by Dominic Smith. A beautifully written history which brings the reader into the art guilds of the Netherlands in the 1600’s. New York’s gritty Brooklyn, isolated rich on the Upper East Side in the later 1950’s. Australia in 2000. The stories are built in layers as is the painting depicted. Sara De Vos’ last oeuvre brings a poignantly perfect masterpiece of an ending to all of the disparate lives affected by her work. Prose is gorgeous. Characters provocative and real. Learned a lot about oil on canvas. One of the best reads this year.
Women. Murder. And such. The Feud had promise. Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford. Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis. But. Acting so bad. Not campy bad. Just bad. Couldn’t get through the first episode. Big Little Lies. Nicole Kidman. Reese Witherspoon. Ditto. Derived from a typically insipid Liane Moriarty book. Girls. Lena Dunham’s best season yet.
Little Deaths, a murder mystery novel by Emma Flint. A Brit who has been obsessed with crime stories since she was a girl. An okay read with with a bit of a feminist agenda. Baileys Prize Longlist. Used to be Orange Prize. Both sponsors have since ditched. Why a segregated genre for women authors? Lots of women winners of Man Booker. Good writing is good.
The Woman on the Stairs, Bernhard Schlink. Beautiful gem of a read. Sweet reckoning. Irene, the young woman on the stairs in a painting brings three men together to confront old age and their disparate pasts in Germany. Each evaluates his life as Irene reunites them on her isolated island in Australia as she faces death. All of them loved her in different ways. Possessive, obsessive, unconditional. It’s the third that is an intimate poignant connection. A story of loneliness, regret, then peace. Subtle mysteries, but not a thriller by any means. It’s a translation from the German, yet well done.
The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead. The story of Cora. A young slave who runs away from her Georgia plantation. The plot follows her harrowing life as she is pursued by an obsessed Javert-esque slave catcher. Her travels take her on a real underground railroad in dark boxcars to different cities as she tries to make it to freedom. Violent and gory scenes. As was realistic. Yet. An allegorical journey. Being black in America is fraught with peril. From Cora to Trayvon. Kindnesses and horrors along the way. Stations of the Cross? To be made into a movie by Moonlight director Barry Jenkins.