In an effort to catch up, here are some mini-reviews of some of the books that I’ve been reading lately. Just because they do not get a full post does not necessarily mean that they’re bad reads – au contraire for a couple of them – but it’s just that perhaps I didn’t have enough time/energy/inspiration to do that after I’d read them. These are still good books despite the brevity of my comments.
A short fast reading novel based on life on the Western plains in the later 1800’s. Mattie Ross narrates her story of when she was fourteen and leaves her Arkansas farm to avenge the murder of her father by a no-good outlaw character. Mattie hooks up with a couple of law enforcement type guys and though they all have different motives, they’re all after the same thing: catching the murderer as he travels through Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma). This is a Western type story, and there have been a couple of movies of this book, one a John Wayne (of course) in 1969, and in 2010, the Coen brothers directed another interpretation which was nominated for bucket loads of awards. (Haven’t seen them though.) It was a fast read, exciting for the most part and I enjoyed it overall. (Mattie was a bit irritating at times as she knew EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME, but apart from that, good one.)
Another from the old TBR shelves, I picked this one as it has been there for ages and it was thin. (Seriously. I was looking for a fast read as I’m reading a chunkster – see below.) I’m also a big fan of Lee’s earlier memoir (Cider for Rosie) and think that everyone should read that, so had high hopes for this volume. I had very little idea what it was about though, except it concerned the civil war in Spain (which I knew only trace amounts about). Apart from that, I was a blank slate. Set in 1934, Lee narrates his travels when he was younger and leaves for Spain to walk around and earn a bit of money busking with his violin along the way. The whole book is focused on his experiences, and it’s a beautiful and evocative memoir just as Cider with Rosie was. He is older in this one, of course, but the style continues (along with his great sense of humor). It’s a lovely gentle read of a time long gone, and I loved it.
In the meantime, I’ve been reading the non-fiction book, Five Days at Memorial, by Sheri Fink. This details the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina at one of New Orleans’ largest hospitals and shows the incredible chaotic mess that happened during the evacuation of its patients. It’s a nightmare and unbelievable that it happened like this. To top all of this, there’s a question of whether a selected group of health care workers elected to use euthanasia with some of the more critical patients during this process. The whole thing is mindboggling, really, and this is a riveting read. More thoughts once I’ve read it, but it might be a while — it’s more than 500 pages. (Good but long.)