Vacation Reading and Viewing - December 2009
Recommendations for airplane, bus, ski lounge, home theatre...
Marilynne Robinson's Home is a gorgeous, old-fashioned read. She's the best kind of storyteller--unobtrusive but in the right place at the right time. [Jenny Dunning]
White Tiger by Aravind Adiga: An unflattering portrait of economic conditions in 21st-century India (that has apparently angered readers in Adiga's homeland). But this starkly realistic winner of the Booker prize is a page-turner!
Here is what Stuart Jeffries of The Guardian wrote in October, 2008: "It's the morning after Adiga, 33, won the £50,000 Man Booker award with his debut novel The White Tiger, which reportedly blew the socks off Michael Portillo, the chair of judges, and, more importantly, is already causing offence in Adiga's homeland for its defiantly unglamorous portrait of India's economic miracle. For a western reader, too, Adiga's novel is bracing: there is an unremitting realism usually airbrushed from Indian films and novels. It makes Salman Rushdie's Booker-winning chronicle of post-Raj India, Midnight's Children (a book that Adiga recognises as a powerful influence on his work), seem positively twee. The Indian tourist board must be livid." [Carol Holly]
The Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins
This is a book that might be described as a hybrid of fact and fancy. The story turns on the author's interest in an early 20th century photographer of Native Americans, Edward Sheriff Curtis. This is fiction, a novel, but the narrator happens to be named Marianne Wiggins, and the photographer happens to be a real historical figure whose legacy she complicates here as she follows a woman whose research into the photographer intersects with a lifelong search for father. [Jan Hill]
Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kittredge -- A novel in stories that explores lives led in a small Maine town and meditates on marriage. Beautifully drawn characters and a great understated sense of the tragedies that occur in apparently everyday lives.
Cormac McCarthy, The Road. An apocalyptic novel that's really about the bond between a father and son.
Edward P. Jones, All Aunt Hagar's Children. A novel in stories that depicts a glorious range of characters in the Washington, DC African-American community over the course of the late twentieth century. Perfectly balances the grand sweep of history and the particularity of individual fates.
Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road. The perfect complement to an episode of Mad Men - the ennui of living the American dream in 1960's New York. [Mary Trull]
When the British Styling Competition comes to their Yorkshire town, an estranged couple (Alan Rickman and Natasha Richardson) reunite for the sake of their son (Josh Harnett)---sort of. Blow Dry (Miramax 2001) is a wacky comedy in which forgiveness and a good haircut triumph over cancer. [Karen Cherewatuk and Rich DuRocher]
For books and music and movies...
http://www.headbutler.com/ [recommended by Diana Postlethwaite]
For more St. Olaf English Department reading recommendations and review click here.