Sunday, September 5, 2010

Book project 2010: update #18

Lesson learnt this week: it's easier and less time-consuming if I update this list as I finish a book and not leave them in a pile on the floor to be updated all in one go... Oh well.

Here's what I've been reading this fortnight:

Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner

Oh lordy, even for chick lit this was a silly book... With possibly the worst title ever. Ever.

Time’s Long Run by Stephen Orr

Like Lindy Chamberlain and the dingo that made off with her baby, the disappearance of the Beaumont children continues to fascinate Australians 30+ years after it happened. This book is a reimagining of the case, told from the perspective of nine-year-old, club-footed loner Henry Page, and examining what happens to the people left behind to search and wait in vain. While the central mystery of the book is intriguing, it is also a claustrophobic snapshot of suburban Australia in the ‘60s. You can almost smell the heat and the boredom; hear the cicadas; taste the flat lemonade.

The Villa of mysteries by David Hewson

It took me 63 pages to realise I’d read this book before but by then I was hooked all over again. A genuinely mystifying thriller set in Rome, this was well worth a second read.

Jetty Road by Cath Kenneally

What is it about suburban Adelaide that makes so many authors want to set slow-burning, lyrical novels about the relationships within families there? Yawn.

Piece of my heart by Peter Robinson

This wasn’t a bad crime novel per se, but I found the narrative, which jumps back and forth from 1969 to the present day confusing, perhaps because both sets of coppers seemed remarkably similar, with only the mobile phones or lack thereof to tell them apart. Not much progress seems to have been made in the Yorkshire police force in 30-something years. Hmmm...

The last living slut by Roxanna Shirazi

On the list of “things I am not cut out to be”, as revealed by this list so far, are 1) magazine beauty editor and 2) footballer’s WAG. I’d like to add a third after reading this warts (probably genital) ‘n’ all memoir: rock groupie. The drug-fuelled all-nighters; the four-in-a-bed sex sessions; the boob flashing dirty dancing in 15cm stilettos; the long-haired rockers with lace-up crotch leather pants. God, it makes me feel exhausted just thinking about thinking it. And just a little bit dirty.

Which is a reaction author Shirazi would almost certainly have something to say about – she is, improbably, a well-known speaker on gender and identity issues at international women’s conferences. While she was doing it every which way with about a gazillion rockers (and almost as many “gal pals”) by night, she was completing her master’s degree by day. Which just goes to show you shouldn’t stereotype, or judge people by their sexual choices.

Having approached this book with curiosity – how does a nice Iranian girl become a groupie? – I found it all got a bit samey after awhile. Meet famous, infamous or wannabe-famous rocker. Go back stage. Make like a sexual pretzel. Fall in love despite knowing “the deal”. Get dumped by rocker. Repeat.

As I said, it’s not for me.

The host by Stephanie Meyer

After all that rampant sexuality and drug-taking, a nice dose of wholesome fantasy escapism seemed like just the ticket. As with the Twilight series, the most unbelievable aspect of this novel is not the plot (a bug-like alien helps the human “host” she’s been implanted inside of find her family and in the process joins the “resistance”) but the fact that the young, attractive, lovelorn protagonists aren’t consoling themselves with some rampant bonking...

Honestly, I know these novels are meant for “young adults” but has Meyer met any young adults recently?

Hands up who thinks the young folk of today are more likely to be overtaken by hormones than glow worms from another planet?

Just saying.

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