Waltzing the Cat by Pam Houston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Charming collection of short stories that stand on their own, but pretty much chart the journey of one main character, photographer/adventurer Lucy O’Rourke as she figures out just what is going on in her head/heart. Her adventures take her all over the world and I think my favorite stories were about her trip to the Amazon & then her initial discovery of her grandmother’s ranch home in Colorado. The writing style is very clear and paints the pictures of the scenery and places quite vividly. The characters who drift in and out of Lucy’s life are very entertaining. The one thing that bothered me is that the ongoing theme is her angst over not being able to permanently in love. She clearly craves it too much and then ends up falling much too easily for all the wrong sorts of men. It’s funny and entertaining, but gets old. Then Houston floored me with the final story which seemed to me to be explaining Lucy’s struggle as having much darker reasons than expected. THAT made me think back to the other stories and seeing potential sings of these more sinister events. It’s a clever writing style actually, allowing the reader to enjoy each tale on it’s own and/or start to try and connect events/reactions to get to the bottom of Lucy.
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A rare book finished all in one day because the writing was easy to follow & the characters very compelling.
Fascinating tale of a love affair between a 15 year old boy and 36 year old woman in Post-WWII Germany and how that affair creates a deep moral conundrum for the boy when he ends up becoming a spectator as her pre-affair life is literally put on trial. The story is told by him as he decides to document his life with Hannah and how the relationship ends up dominating & directing his adult life. I liked how he would try to make sense of what was happening to him and around him – it made the story that much more interesting to follow his introspective moments.
It’s not a light hearted happy tale by any means!
I did learn of something in German history that I had somehow not been aware of before – the Great Divide between the children of the WWII generation and their parents. Those children were coming of age in the 60s and naturally had a deep revulsion & guilt upon learning of the role their parent’s generation played in the Holocaust. I had been unaware of that social upheaval there, but of course it makes perfect sense within their cultural history that there would be a Great Divide between those two generations.
I was looking for some new books. I can’t read books after I have seen the movie which sucks because I bet The Reader was a FAB book. The movie was very good. So I will tryout Walking the Cat. Thanks for the reviews.
Oh lord – I am so culturally out of it – The Reader was a movie??
You’ll like Walking the Cat – interestingly after I wrote my review (on my iPhone this weekend so it was more disjointed than usual!), I read a few others posted and it seems like people have enjoyed Pam Houston’s other books even more, so if this was one of her weaker ones, then that’s a good sign!