Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Book reviews (yes, plural!)

A week from today, we go to the US to Clinton, CT for a visit to Granny Karla, Grandpa John, and Lenny & Joe (namesakes of a favorite fish restaurant). Clinton is the location of the summer cottage that has been in Dad's family for many years, and where I got to enjoy June for most of my childhood summers, and now into adulthood. You can see the house here on the Clinton webcam: it's the grey one to the right of the big white one.

At the end of Waterside Lane there used to be a general store run by a man named Kenny, and my good friend Jessie Burns and I spent lots of time roaming the aisles at Kenny's, collecting candy and comic books, Archie comic books to be precise. I loved following the exploits of the red-haired protagonist, his arch-rival Reggie, his best friend Jughead, and the two female characters, the blonde Betty and dark-haired Veronica.


Thanks to Lucy's fiance Ernesto, I have rediscovered the joy of reading, even if many of the pages of the books I've just finished were pictures. Back when we actually had our book club, Ernesto led us one month in the reading of Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi's "graphic novel" about life in Iran under the Ayatollah. Ernesto is doing his PhD on creating digital libraries of graphic novels (or roughly something like that, no doubt many PhD topics cannot actually be summarised in 6 words), and it was after having them over for dinner a few weeks ago that I saw a book in the local library that grabbed my attention. It was huge- 580 pages - but when I opened it up halfway through, the page I turned to featured a character called Raina, so I thought I should check it out. Blankets by Craig Thompson is a coming-of-age tale of a teenage boy growing up in a fundamentalist Christian household; Raina is the beautiful and talented girl he falls for at a church camp - so apart from the church aspect, she wasn't that different from our own Raina! Raina, if you have been to church camp, I will stand corrected!


Anyway, as you know I am not actually very good when it comes to writing book reviews, but if you do happen to see Blankets at your local library, it is worth a read. Upon returning this one I happened to have a look at what else was in the graphic novel section, and ended up coming home with another one by Marjane Satrapi, entitled Embroideries. On the surface less serious than Persepolis, Embroideries is fabulous - again set in Iran, it's basically like being a fly on the wall of a gossip session of 8 or so middle-aged/elderly women. Sample quote from the grandmother: "To speak behind others' backs is the ventilator of the heart". There was also a part where one woman reveals she's had plastic surgery to keep her husband interested in her; she went from a small-breasted and big-hipped lady to a big-breasted and small-hipped lady:
"Of course this idiot [her husband] doesn't know that every time he kisses my breasts, it's actually my ass he's kissing..."

I'll refrain from revealing what the title means but again, would recommend this to the female DwL readers; men, you might struggle to find the humor in it! And in the way that I love connections, I just read on the back cover one review which calls it "...Sex and the City, Middle-Eastern style - outrageous, explicit and funny." Perhaps even funnier than the actual SatC!

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