Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Books and stuff.....

Isn't it great when things just work the way they're supposed to -even better, they exceed your expectations and leave you delighted? After my rather negative post about Delta airlines (BT, I received a response and a small credit - not sure how much since I haven't read through their email yet), I've been looking for something pretty and positive and happy.

Last night, I finished reading a book and now that I am on the Kindle, of course, I went and bought a new one right away. How I feel at the end of a book is the best indicator of how I liked it. When I reach the end of a great book, I'm usually a little sad to put it down and a little worried if the next one will match up. If the book has not been too great, then I'm racing through the last few pages - looking forward to the next one, hoping it will be a better journey.

So last night, it was the latter -I finshed reading this book called Major Pettigrew's Last Stand .
The book has some glowing reviews on Amazon.com but I, for the most part, found it irritating. Set in a little pastoral village in the English countryside, the book deals with relationships between the "native" English and the Pakistani-English residents of the town. Without offering any spoilers, I thought the characters were all painfully sterotypical - from the Major's son, his American girlfriend to every last member of the Pakistani-English family. There were Bollywood like flourishes and twists in the plot, which perhaps thrilled some of the adoring reviewers but left just a bad taste in my mouth - I can take loud characters and fantastical turns in my Hindi movies but I'd like my books to stay out of that realm please.

And so last night, I zipped through the last few pages of Major Pettigrew and thankfully moved on the Kindle store to begin the search again. A friend had mentioned Lorrie Moore as a delightful writer and I decided to try out that recommendation. I bought "A Gate at the Stairs". I was a little wary at first since the title sounded a little too religious and at a very high level, the book is about a woman hired to provide childcare to an adopted girl. Lots of potential for things to get really maudlin there. Nothing turns me off a book faster than thick layers of cloying sentimentality, which, come to think of it, the Pettigrew book, had a lot of.

Anyway, I have been pleasantly surprised so far. The book has one less star on Amazon.com than the one above but I love it so much more. The writing is sharp, its snappy, its witty - the characters are complex and nuanced and the book is moving along at a great pace. Best of all, the book is funny in a droll and drab tone that I just love - the opposite of sentimental drooling. I read exceprts to Arjun last night and we both shared some good laughs. That to me, is a good test, if you and your 7 year old can both see the humor in a piece of writing. The protagonist's father - Bo - is a potato farmer and in describing him, she mentions his organic, quirky ways that distinguish him from his other farming brethren.
"He was known as a Tofu Tom, or Bo the Tofu prince or sometimes just 'Bofu', even though he grew potatoes." It was the Bofu that cracked us up. I'm looking forward to my reading time tonight!

And here also, is my brief critique of my Kindle.
Love - that I can buy a book as soon as I'm done with the last one, that I can carry all my books in that little slim device, that I can highlight and annotate - eventhough I have not yet done it yet and mostly I love it as a thoughtful present from my dear husband!
Hate - that I miss the coverart, i still miss the feel of holding a book, that I cannot lend a book I loved to a friend and that I can't just flip the pages back to a section - pressing the Prev page button is just not the same as remembering the feel of the book when you were at a certain page - know what I mean.

If you have good or bad book experiences, please share. I'm always looking for reommendations - and as you can see above, I remember and follow through on them.

Lastly, I will leave you with a delightful dust pan and bin - yes, you did read that right. Click on over to MocoLoco.com for an example of good design that brings a bit of joy and beauty to the most mundane household task. Hope that brings a smile to your day - happy Tuesday!