15 May 2013
The recent weekend road trip means that I haven't had much time read. Still happily working away at A Suitable Boy. To recap my recent reads, I will start with the one I wanted to hurl across the room because it was so bad...
Constance Harding's (Rather) Startling Year (US)
A Surrey State of Affairs (UK) by Ceri Radford
Let me try and make a few comparisons to help explain this piece of derivative dreck: The cluelessness of Hyacinth Bucket was only marginally funny when the show was new 23 years ago. Radford seems to think that putting Hyacinth (Constance) on the Internet is a sure fire way to make this book hilarious. It isn't. Bridget Jones all grown up at 53 but without any of Helen Fielding's wit. But Constance is so much cooler than Bridget because she has a blog rather than a diary. What innovation. It's as if Radford took every one-dimensional starchy British character she had ever seen in American film and TV and decided that was going to be her heroine. This is 30-year old Radford (she was only ten when Hyacinth was cutting edge) trying to get into the brain of a 53-year old and failing miserably. There are ways to portray out of touch housewives that are much funnier and less insulting to the intelligence of readers (and housewives).
Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells
I read this one to cover 1992 on my A Century of Books list. And it certainly had all of the hallmarks of books of that period: drunken, abusive parents (oh, look that pregnant woman is smoking), satirical look at the Catholic church, sassy southern women just begging to be adapted to the Hollywood screen. This prequel to the Ya-Ya sisterhood is a poor man's Steel Magnolias.
Surprising Myself by Christopher Bram
The 1987 debut novel of Gods and Monsters (Father of Frankenstein) author Christopher Bram. I read this one right after high school and loved it. Twenty-six years later the landscape for young gays is so, so different, so this reads a bit like historical fiction, but it still managed to charm me a second time.
Quartet by Jean Rhys
The only "serious" book I have read lately. Enjoyable in that tragic French life kind of way. Woman's husband ends up in prison, she becomes a mistress to survive...angst, jealousy, more angst. I actually quite liked it. Makes me wish I had gotten my hands on the two Jean Rhys Penguins before Frances found them.