Saturday, March 29, 2008

Spring break - old and new friends

Hello everyone. This is B here, the other half of B & b ex libris. Work and school keep me from posting very often (and also from reading fun books) but I'm finishing a wonderful spring break and I've had the chance to catch up with an old friend and get introduced to two new friends.

First, catching up with an old friend - the first book I finished was Pontoon, Garrison Keillor's new novel. Keillor is one of my favorite authors of all time, and his new novel is short, sweet and a pleasure to read. Like most of Keillor's novels, it never really seems to start and it never really seems to end. It feels more like you're listening to an interesting story told by a good friend on a summer afternoon. Pontoon centers around a very strange funeral and a very strange wedding, both taking place in Keillor's legendary town of Lake Wobegon. If you're looking for a fun, quick read that will make you laugh and nod in agreement at how weird people are, definitely pick this one up.

Next, my wife introduced me to a new friend. I read Sarajevo Marlboro, a collection of short stories by Miljenko Jergovic (I know, I hadn't heard of him either - but trust me, he's a hidden gem). Jergovic is a native of the country formerly known as Yugoslavia, and this collection of stories are all about the war that happened there. I'll be honest - I know next to nothing about this part of the world or about the war in Yugoslavia - but this book was a great way to learn more. It focuses on how people's lives are interrupted by war and also how people find normalcy during war. Even if you don't know much about Yugoslavia, the book is still fascinating because it's about ordinary people and the interesting ways they deal with loss and tragedy. Sarajevo Marlboro is published by Archipelago Books - an awesome independent house. Support them and check out their offerings.

Finally, I have bumped into an interesting author I haven't met before - Margaret Atwood. After finishing Sarajevo Marlboro, I was in such a reading mood that I literally put it down and reached for the next book on the shelf that looked interesting. I'm glad that I decided to grab Cat's Eye by Atwood. I am about a fourth of the way through it and I can hardly put it down. More on this later.

So, if you are a student or took a vacation and spring break was a chance for you to do some reading, which old friends did you catch up with and/or which new ones did you meet?


Trish said...

Brad--I'll be interested in hearing a male's perspective on Cat's Eye, which struck such a strong chord with me because I so understood the dynamics between Cordelia and Elaine throughout the novel due to my own relationships as a child. Atwood is wonderful--hope you read some of her other works in the future.

Brad said...

Trish - Yeah, I will be interested to write about it when I finish. I didn't really know anything about Atwood when I started, but I've learned that she has a certain reputation. All I can say right now is that the writing is brilliant. It feels like I'm at the point in the book where things are going to start to get a little dark.

What else by Atwood do you recommend?

Trish said...

From experience I can recommend The Handmaid's Tale and The Blind Assassin, both very different books. I've also heard good things about Alias Grace (and then mixed things about Oryx and Crake)--both of which I own but haven't gotten to yet.