Sunday, December 16, 2007

More books I've read in 2007

Biography was my first literary love and I read every single one of them on the shelves of Jackson-Davis Elementary School in Richmond Virginia, but somewhere along the line fiction stole my heart and I read very few biographies anymore. But I do read everything Bill Bryson writes whether it's about travel ("In a Sunburned Country" "I'm a Stranger Here Myself") linguistics ("The Mother Tongue") or everything else ("A Short History of Everything") so I was glad to get my hands on his biography of William Shakespeare. There are a ton of books written about Big Bill Shakespeare -- more than there are about Jesus or Abe Lincoln -- even though we know very little about his life. One scholar said that "Every Shakespeare biography is 5 per cent facts and 95 per cent conjecture." So Bryson tells us more about the life and times of an Elizabethan actor, so we get to see the world through Shakespeare's eyes.

Russell Hoban is one of my favorite writers, but I'm not sure what to make of his "Linger Awhile." An octogenarian falls in love with a long-dead 1950's B-movie actress. With the help of some friends he succeeds in bringing her image to life but she's black and white in a full-color world and she becomes a vampire, and they clone a second one who also goes around sucking blood. There's at least one love story in here -- no, there's at least three love stories here -- along with some great lines and observations from Hoban, but it's not one of my favorites of his.

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