Wednesday 15 November 2017

Quick Lit November 2017

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy for quick reviews of books we've read over the past month.

Untangled by Lisa Damour
You know an author is on your side when she jokes about your teenage daughter straining her eye-rolling muscles. Untangled is a mix of psychotherapy, scientific findings and practical advice to help you help your daughter negotiate the often choppy, sometimes stormy, seas of the teen years. I appreciated that the gist of the book was that yes, your daughter is being normal when she acts like a little witch, but yes, she still needs you to insist on models of decent behaviour. A recommendation from Modern Mrs Darcy.

Everything that Remains by Joshua Fields Milburn, with interruptions by Ryan Nicodemus
I was out of luck trying to get this via interlibrary loan (or I was away for the summer when it came in), so when I saw that The Minimalists were offering this and one of their other books as a free PDF download via Gumroad, I took the chance. If prose can be purple and spare at the same time, this book is it. The writing is a little offbeat (after all, they did co-found Asymmetrical Press), but if you are already familiar with The Minimalists, you might enjoy this more in-depth memoir, or narrative non-fiction as Josh calls it. For a how-to on minimalism, try the other free download, Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life.

The Buried Giant by Kazuro Ishiguro
My first spontaneous reading choice in a looong time! The first two books on my list were missing from the library shelves, so I thought, OK, I need to finally tackle The Remains of the Day - but Ishiguro has just won the Nobel prize for literature, so all his books were on display and that was gone. With a toddler rapidly losing patience, I grabbed this. The story is set in post-Arthurian Britain, where people seem to have lost the capacity to hang onto memories. An old couple, Axl and Beatrice, feel the pull to leave their settlement in search of the son they can't fully remember and haven't seen for years for reasons they can't recall - and whose whereabouts they are not certain of. Along the way, they gather unlikely companions and a wider quest emerges, with themes of memory, justice and mercy. I haven't read Ishiguro before, so I wasn't ready for the slap in the face that is characteristic of his work. I found the novel intellectually satisfying but morally unsettling.

Frog went A-Courtin', retold by John Langstaff
This is the Caldecott Medal version of the ancient folk song, where the author weaves together various versions of the song to form a story with a happy ending. My toddler's summary of the story of Frog's courtship of Miss Mouse? "The frog had a sword and horse and went to fight." Ahem...

Happy Thanksgiving to those stateside. Hope you get some time to escape the crowds and read!