It’s raining outside. It’s been raining for days, a moody summer rain that’s intensified the green so that everywhere I look there is green, green, green. I love the sound of rain on the roof. It reminds me of childhood and lying in bed at night, covers pulled to my chin as I wondered what the horses thought of the rain, of the magic of water falling from the sky.
Saturday when I ran my long run (22 miles–why oh why do I do such things to myself??), there were two horses stopped in the middle of the trail as their riders busied themselves with their cell phones. I rubbed my face against the nearest horse’s face, that long and hard slope of bone, and breathed in deep. There’s something so comforting about the smell of a horse, something so simple and homey.
In other news, one of my poems “How She Lived” was chosen to be included in Grayson Books anthology, which is a huge honor.
I felt quite puffed about this and then, wham, the very next day I received an email from Black Lawrence Press informing me that my memoir wasn’t a good fit. They did say that they hoped I’d consider submitting more in the future, so fingers-crossed that this a good sign (because, damn it, I just cannot, cannot, cannot get the endings of my memoir to work, and I’ve been struggling with it for years).
But forget poems and rejections: Let’s talk books. I’ve been reading a lot this summer and if I keep up the momentum, I just might meet my 65 books challenge by the end of the year.
Shelter Us, Laura Nicole Diamond, She Writes Press. Wow, I loved this book, which is written in sparse and uncluttered prose, and the voice is so straightforward and honest that you immediately love the narrator, Sarah Shaw, an ex-lawyer and now stay-at-home mother who lost her daughter to crib death. Sarah struggles with grief and, because her husband has become increasingly distant, she consoles herself by befriending a young homeless mother, whom she’s intent on saving (the way she’s unable to save herself). This leads to lies and a short affair that threatens to collapse her marriage. My only criticism is that the ending was a bit too easy. And yet, I didn’t really mind. I loved the voice so much, I would have followed this narrator anywhere. I highly recommend.
The Bright Forever, Lee Martin, Broadway Books. I finished this over a week ago and still can’t get it out of my mind. It haunts me, and most likely I’ll have to read it again to get a better grasp on how Martin accomplishes what he does, which is to align readers to very likable and unsavory characters. How does he get us to care about them even as we are repulsed and distrustful of them? I don’t know; he just does.
The book follows the disappearance of Katie, a young girl in a small town in Indiana in the 1970s. It’s written from four points of view: Raymond R., the suspected killer; Mr. Dees, the math teacher who knows more than he’s admitting; Gilley, Katie’s older brother; and Clare, Raymond R.’s wife. It’s a fascinating book, and almost impossible to put down. I finished it in less than two days and the only reason it took me that long is that I lingered over sections. The writing is so damned good. It’s beautiful and bittersweet and, at times, filled with unbearable sadness and longing.
Here’s a tidbit from the beginning chapter:
I’m not saying I didn’t do it. I don’t know.
Isn’t that the most marvelous way to start a book? I highly, highly, highly recommend The Bright Forever and give it six stars out of five.
The Boy Under the Table, Nicole Trope, Allen & Unwin. I’m currently reading this Aussie suspense novel and it’s almost impossible to put down. The beginning felt a bit forced but once I started on the second chapter, the writing picked up and felt more authentic. I don’t usually read suspense genre books and yet this one appeals to me. It’s not completely realistic and isn’t literary in nature but it’s a good book to fill a rainy evening. It’s told from the point of view of three people: Tina, a young runaway living in The Cross and turning tricks for survival; and Doug and Sarah, parents of a young boy who was kidnapped while they attended a fair. Doug and Sarah’s sections are well done and heartbreakingly real and yet Tina’s still feel a bit forced. She doesn’t feel completely real to me. Hopefully this will change as I dive deeper inside the story.
And lastly, goodbye to one of my favorite authors, Carolyn See, who passed away on July 13 at the age of 82. Her book Golden Days got me through some tough times. It is so funny and real and true and wonderful; I’ve read it at least five times (and I think I’m going to have to read it again soon, too). Thanks so much for your words, Carolyn, dear. And even though I never met or knew you, I loved you deeply inside my yearning reader heart.