Sunday, May 28, 2006

Tim O'Brian, John Grisham

Just finished two short books (I love summer!) First the good one: The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien. It was simultaneously numb and harsh and present. It was very short, jumpy, raw. It seemed reminiscent of something but I haven't read it before - maybe something of Vonnegut's attitude? Tragic, yes, but absolutely hilarious at the same time. I laughed out loud, and then felt callous for doing it. Deeply pessimistic? No, I think, more resigned than anything else. Anyway, I enjoyed it although it made me feel sick to my stomach. Almost too timely. Second, fairly lame book: A Painted House, by John Grisham. Another book that I finished just because I started - I picked it up at somebody's house and they lent it to me. (Thank you! I love borrowing books!) Now, I'm no snob, and I like Grisham's legal thrillers, especially with chocolate late at night. But this was an attempt at a much more serious book and much more carefully written. Also much more boring. I did enjoy it - but the protagonist was seven years old and not particularly fascinating. Brief synopsis: cotton farming sucks. Baseball and grandparents don't. Oddly enough there was a The Client like sequence where the kid witnesses a murder and keeps quiet about it ... I guess he had to stick a couple murders in there so as not to disappoint his fans. So - decent book - but doesn't quite become the classic evocation of southern farm life in the fifties it is trying to be.

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