The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Micro-Reviews

Life has kept me from blogging, and I have close to 70 books I want to review. Yeah, like that’s going to happen. So I’m going to do some really fast little reviews, just a bit more than a thumbs up/thumbs down.

So here goes:

Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That? by Henry Alford: A semi-serious, semi-flip guide to manners. Alford is funny sometimes, has a few good points, and illustrates why being an etiquette columnist is harder than it seems. No depictions of harm to animals, not that you would expect it in such a book. I recommend it, despite Alford not addressing the real “would it kill you to stop doing that?” behavior: bouncy legs. I need to  know how to stop people next to me from bouncing their restless legs. It’s grounds for murder, not that I’ve actually gone that far yet. Mostly, I fantasize reaching over and smacking the person on the leg as hard as I can. This is probably impolite. Henry? You need to answer this question.

The Red Thread by Ann Hood: A fictionalized version of Hood’s process of adopting a daughter from China. The author shows several families and individuals as they get ready to bring their new daughters home. It’s well-written, the characters are interesting, it’s a tad predictable, and I enjoyed it. No depictions of harm to animals. I recommend it.

Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton: Great fun! Walton, writing in the style of Jane Austen, presents us with a tale in which all the characters are dragons. And this is much better than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, or that other one. The young female dragons are endearing, the older males are stuffy and pompous, there’s the inevitable smarmy clergyman aspiring to marry a dear young thing, there’s all sorts of standard tropes from the Victorian novel – and it is all charming, charming, charming. Read it, read it, read it!

Well, that kind of worked. I’ll do more of these soon. Once I get the backlog micro-reviewed, I can resume doing full reviews.

Advertisements

February 6, 2012 Posted by | beach book, Book Reviews, fantasy, humor, nonfiction, women's fiction | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine, by Ann Hood

Over time, friends grow apart. This happens more often than we’d like to think. The ideal, often promoted in the media, is the forever friendship dating back to childhood, college, the first job. The reality is, some friends remain close, some stay in touch, and some stop being friends. Children complicate things, especially as they get older. And that’s a basic summary of this moody novel by Ann Hood.

More specifically, the three friends are Elizabeth, Suzanne, and Claudia, and they meet and bond as young hippies in the late 1960s. Sixteen years later, one has lost her mind – and everything else – in the aftermath of a tragedy, another has become a corporate workaholic and control freak, and the third is fatally ill and watching her children rebel against her carefully honed lifestyle. Unfortunately, I never felt like I got to know any of these characters well. I thought Suzanne was the most understandable, probably because I know women who took her trajectory from smoking pot to seeking power. But people learn to deal with the type of catastrophe that Claudia experienced, and while it was the kind of thing that would send anyone into depression, she wasn’t drawn well enough to let the reader understand why she got so much worse over time. Nor was it clear what kind of interventions were or were not attempted. What about her friends? Family? Elizabeth was less of a blank, but she, too, seemed incomplete.

I’m not recommending for or against this book. It was well-written, and if your goal is to read beautiful writing, go for it. If you need character development and a plot line, think twice, however.

There were no animal characters.

October 3, 2011 Posted by | beach book, Book Reviews, families, friendship, Uncategorized, women's fiction | , | 1 Comment