Monday, August 20, 2012

Two Good Reads and One Stinker

This summer, with the baby and all our running around, I've hardly had time to see any movies, concerts, or shows, but I have had the occasional moment to read.   Two of the stand-outs are both well known at the moment.  Yes Chef is by Marcus Samuelson, and it is a memoir that recounts no only his amazing professional life, but also his Ethiopian birth and subsequent adoption to Sweden. Written with such grace and openness, this book rises far above the usual retelling of the grind in a professional kitchen.

My second favorite is not a novel, as such, but rather a fictionalized retelling of real events.  Normally I am not a fan of this type of writing because I think you should tell the truth or just not tell the story.  I am also not a fan of Ernest Hemingway who I think was a great big jerk (to use words I can get away with here).  Nevertheless, I heard such great things about The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain that I had to give it a try.  Sure enough, the crowds were correct, and this is a very well-written book.  The main character is most definitely not Hemingway, but his long suffering first wife, Hadley.  The depiction of her struggle to keep pace with her unusual husband in post war  Paris is quite something.  Somehow McLain makes the whole thing work, and you're rooting for Hadley, if not for "Nesto," the whole way through.

The last book I want to mention is Fifty Shades of Grey. As I said before, I often read books that get a lot of hype just to see what all the fuss is about.  Frequently I do not love these pieces, but I can almost always see why people do like them. Probably it's an old habit left over from reading all the current kids books when I was a teacher.  Anyway, I read Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James with the same thought.  I honestly cannot figure out what people are so excited about!  The writing is poor, the characters are thin and weak, and I'm pretty sure you can find that type of titillation in plenty of grocery store novels.  I was not moved except to boredom and annoyance, and I have no desire to read the other two in the series.  If you want something decent, or even just something racy, go elsewhere.  Also if you figure out what the fuss is about, let me know.  Happy reading.

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