Happy Thanksgiving. Sorry it’s taken so long to write … life – and a busted computer – got in the way.
Ever go through those periods of time where you don’t read any books for weeks and weeks, and then you’re suddenly hit with this insatiable urge to read a whole bunch of ’em at once, even though you know you don’t have much time for it?
Well, that was me in September. Here’s three books I’d heard about and recently got around to cracking open:
David Gilmour’s A Perfect Night to Go to China won last year’s Governor-General book awards, and with good reason. It’s actually pretty good. I didn’t really know much about this book going into it – silly me, I actually thought part of it took place in China. So much for that theory.
The book is narrated from the point of view of a man whose young son goes missing one night when the father steps out of the house briefly, leaving the door unlocked. The novel follows the narrator’s slow unravelling of his marriage and himself as he searches for his son.
Aside from being a fairly fast read, I found the way the story was woven to be a bit fantastical, which you always want from time to time. I wonder, though, if I read the book maybe a tad too fast and didn’t soak it up like a real bookworm should. The ending took me a bit aback (of course, reading between subway sleeps may have contributed a bit to that, too). I’m not going to ruin it here. Just read it for yourself.
I then decided to depart from fiction for a while and picked up Norah Vincent’s Self-Made Man. I actually watched a TV interview with her and heard another colleague – who’d read the book – talk about it, so I really had wanted to read this one for a while.
Vincent, a syndicated columnist, decided to go undercover as a man for a year, to really get a sense of the male experience. What she learned surprised her, not only about men, but about women, too. The experience also ends up affecting Vincent in a way that she didn’t even anticipate.
I thought this book was not only well-written, but I think it’s a book both men and women should read. There’s no bashing of the sexes here. Just frank, honest observations by an individual of one gender delving into the world of the other.
Last, but not least was this book – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I had heard about this book, but it’s taken me this long to get around to reading it. I was actually warned by the librarian checking out the book to me, “Get ready to cry.” I thought she was kidding. And believe me, I’m pretty sure I came close a couple times.
The book tells the tale of Amir, an ethnic Pashtun living in the United States, who returns to Afghanistan to make amends for an event that had happened earlier in his life. The narrative then akes the reader backwards in time to Afghanistan – Kabul, to be precise – and the life Amir leads with his father, and his poor Hazara friend/servant Ali and his little son, Hassan.
Hosseini’s was an Afghan-American, first-time novelist who took time off from his job as a doctor to write this book. And believe me, the time was well-spent. At the huge risk of sounding like a cliche, this book is breathtaking and heartbreaking. I’d seriously sometimes read a chunk of the book on my way to work, and by the time I’d closed the book, I’d get up stunned, trying to process what I’d just read. I seriously DON’T understand why this book didn’t win an award.
I don’t know if I plan on seeing the movie adaption when it comes out next year (because I don’t want to end up being one of those purists that kvetch when they cut parts of the book out), but I encourage anyone who hasn’t read this book: Read it. It’s that good.
That’s it for now. We’ll see if time allows me to do this again in about a month’s time. Happy reading!