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Showing posts from December, 2009
64. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams "It seems like that guy is everybody's best friend," my dad said when I told him I had picked up the first book of Douglas Adams' other series. It's not hard to see why. Adams' talent, wit, and bright though sarcastic personality shine through all of his books I've read so far. He was clearly intellectually engaged, which this book's extensive (and unfortunately, largely impermeable to me) discussion of the relationship between music, mathematics, and computer software shows. I'm in no place to judge whether he's accurate or completely making stuff up, but it sounds complicated enough to me. Adams has a gift for amusing one-liners that shows up here as well as in all of his hitchhiker books. Unlike the hitchhiker books, this book even ties up neatly in the end. However, the getting there is so confusing and frustrating that I admit I had no patience for it. The Dirk Gently of th
63. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel Tita is a kitchen prodigy from the moment she is born. Her thwarted love story is told in monthly installments of recipes. I give Esquivel credit for an interesting format, and the interweaving of food and fiction is well done. The plot is simple, though strange. Tita's formidable Mama Elena perpetuates a family tradition where the youngest daughter, that is, Tita, must never marry and must care for her mother until her mother's death. As a result of this baffling tradition, Tita's lover marries her older sister, just to be near her. Mishaps ensue. Esquivel is clearly a member of the Latin American magical realism trend. Ghosts are sighted and encounters with the supernatural occur. The simplicity of the story, however, causes it to lack the significance of, say, House of the Spirits , and while the phenomena fits, it just contributes to an overall strange feeling. Read it for the food, the plot is mundane at best, and at wor
61. Edward II by Christopher Marlowe The last read for Sixteenth Century was intriguing when discussed, but relatively disappointing in reading. Other than a bit of Dr. Faustus and Hero and Leander , this is the first Marlowe I've read. I've heard such favorable comparisons with Shakespeare, but this play at least did not exemplify half the wit or character depth of the Bard's oeuvre. I find the actual history of Edward II riveting. He was a blatant homosexual, who gave his beloved, Piers Gaveston, all the titles and money he wished for, arousing the ire of his barons. The "noble peers" overthrew the king, killed Gaveston, his ignored and ill-treated queen, Isabella, turned against him in exchange for the love of the usurper Mortimer, and the king was ultimately executed with a red-hot poker thrust through his bowels. When his son, Edward III, came of age, Mortimer was executed and Isabella imprisoned for life. This much is TRUE. What could you do with this as

A World in a Book

60. A Year in the World by Frances Mayes I don't know if it took me a while to warm up to her writing style, or if it took her a while to warm up while writing this book, but I definitely appreciated A Year in the World more and more as I read it, and it formed a thoughtful, personal, lyrical perspective on place and the meaning of place in a person's life. I picked up this book that my mother had been reading because the first section is on the author's visit to the Andalucia region in Spain. I am particularly interested in all things Spain at the moment, as I will be studying abroad there next semester. I will be in the Valencia region (yes, as in oranges), but I would like to visit as much of the country as I can. Andalucia is a southern region, where Spanish Visigoth culture collided with Moorish-Arabic culture for hundreds of years. Mayes describes the iconic azuelejos tiles found everywhere, as well as the Moorish half-arches and latticed architecture. While the