Sunday, November 16, 2008

More books I've read in 2008

I don't have as time to read as I'd like, now that I'm using my limited spare time to improve my body and not my mind. But there are some writers who when they come out with a new book, I do what I have to do to make time to read it. Russell Hoban is one, and even though the last book of his I read Linger Awhile was a bit of a disappointment, I am still actively anticipating getting my hands on his newest one My Tango With Barbara Strozzi. Jonathan Carroll is another one. I've always enjoyed his metaphysical novels, even though most of them did not have satisfying endings. Then came White Apples, wherein a likable womanizer discovers that he actually died some time back (without apparently noticing) and has been brought back to the land of the living because his unborn son will be the savior of humanity and he has to teach the boy what happens after you die (difficult, since he doesn't remember anything about it). It's weird, thought-provoking, dreamy and funny like all of his books, but White Apples is my favorite because Carroll really delivers on the set-up here and ties it all together in the end, even though I didn't think there was any way he'd be able to -- and it's also my favorite because at its heart this cosmos-spanning novel is a love story about a man and a woman.
I wish I liked The Ghost in Love as much but I didn't. For one thing the title is misleading, the titular ghost is not a ghost and the love it has for the protagonist's ex-girlfriend is not a big part of the story. The bad guys didn't seem very threatening. It just seemed to me that the ideas in this one were more psychobabble than the spiritual insights I expect from Carroll. I didn't hate it, and I'll wait to see if this means he peaked with White Apples.
(One other writer in this must-read category for me is Mil Millington, and he has a new one out too Instructions For Living Someone Else's Life but I'm waiting till January to read this one when I can get an autographed copy from the author.)
I also read Home Truths from David Lodge because I heard Mister Lodge on the radio talking about his new book Deaf Sentence, a comedy about losing one's hearing. I wanted that book because I'm losing my hearing and having a hard time finding anything amusing about it. I went online and put it on reserve at my local library, but when I went to pick it up -- after receiving an e-mail that it was ready -- they couldn't find it, so I got this instead. It's a short novella about a couple of writers who try to get revenge on a reporter who did a hatchet job on one of them. It's based on a play and it's obvious since it's almost all dialogue -- but witty dialogue, so no complaints.


Anonymous said...

The whole point of THE GHOST IN LOVE is (spoiler alert) the ghost is part of the protagonist (which he discovers only at the end of the story)and which he reintegrates to make himself whole again. Consequently the whole story is ABOUT the ghost, unlike what you've misleadingly said here.
Psychobabble? Don't think so. More like a how to bring yourself back to sanity in a rough world.
Great stuff-- Carroll at his best.

Victoria Smolina

Norrin2 said...

Thanks, Victoria. I'm glad you liked the book. Me, I prefer the Carroll books about real ghosts (and good and evil and chaos). Integrating parts of your personality still feels like psychobabble to me.