Friday, June 6, 2008

Jane: A Book I Liked, A Book I Didn't Like

"What's that book about?" said Eli. I was reading The Girl Who Stopped Swimming.

"It's about a family whose daughter's friend, a 13-year old girl, mysteriously drowns in their pool," I say. He looks puzzled. "It's about a family in a very stressful situation. Everyone--the mom, the dad, the neighbors, the daughter--everyone deals with this tragedy differently. I like those kinds of books."

Everyone in the story, especially the mother, who's the main character, learns something about families and loyalty, wealth and poverty, art and hobbies in this book. The author doesn't flinch from putting her characters into tough situations. The writing's compelling and lively. I might have to find more by the author.

I thought this book, An Arsonist's Guide to Writer's Homes in New England would be fun. The main character has just served jail time for burning down Emily Dickenson's house, and has gotten fan mail from people who want him to burn down other authors' homes.

Sounds fun--black humor, literary slant . . . but the writing was meandering and the main character wasn't compelling--actually none of the characters were. Parts made me laugh, but I kept skimming pages to find those enjoyable sections. I actually quit reading before I finished the book, and that doesn't happen too often.

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