Thursday, April 15, 2010
Wading Through My Wishlist
Recent additions to the Great Monstrosity that is my wishlist....
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
(Found at Book Nut)
Gaiman assumes the role of narrator for his latest book, offering an intimate reading that steals one's attention almost immediately and keeps the listener involved throughout. As the story is based in the United Kingdom, Gaiman is a quintessential raconteur for the tale, with his charming Scottish brogue instilling life and spirit into the central character of Richard Mayhew. Pitch perfect, with clear pronunciation, Gaiman invites listeners into his living room for a fireside chat, offering a private and personal experience that transcends the limitations of traditional narration. The author knows his story through and through, capturing the desired emotion and audience reaction in each and every scene. His characters are unique, with diverse personalities and narrative approaches, and Gaiman offers a variety of dialects and tones. The reading sounds more like a private conversation among friends with Gaiman providing the convincing and likable performance the writing deserves.
The Birth House: A Novel
When Dr. Gilbert Thomas, self-proclaimed expert in hygienic, pain-free childbirth, opens a practice in a Nova Scotia coastal village during the World War I years, it sets the stage for a classic conflict between long-held traditions and modern medicine. Seventeen-year-old Dora Rare, the only Rare daughter within five generations, improves her lot in life by becoming the apprentice of Marie Babineau, the independent but caring Acadian midwife who helped bring several generations of Scots Bay residents into the world. The women of the village (not to mention their husbands) grow bitterly divided when Dr. Thomas calls the health and safety of expectant mothers into question. His vengeful actions toward Dora herself--a young woman looking for guidance with her own love life--turn particularly personal as well. McKay has fashioned what she terms a "literary scrapbook," reproducing and re-creating historical news clippings, advertisements, and letters within the text.
Looking for Bapu
When his grandfather Bapu suffers a stroke, eight-year-old Anu runs for help, but his grandfather dies in the hospital. Grief-stricken, Anu remembers Bapu's daily Hindu rituals and shared moments, and he continues to see Bapu in dreams and visions. As these fade, Anu tries to reconnect with Bapu through a variety of imaginative strategies, including a hilarious attempt to become a sadhu or holy man. His friendships with classmate Unger and neighbor Izzy also add humorous elements that lighten the tone and move the plot. But there are more serious moments as well. Set in Seattle shortly after 9/11, Anu's narrative records incidents of prejudice, as when one emergency worker refers to him as "a little Islam." With episodes that ring true to a boy's perspective, Banerjee's novel provides discussable issues and multicultural insights as well as humor and emotion.
What do you say, readers? Sound good/bad? Have you read any of these?