Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

The Book of Lost Things tells of a 12-year-old English boy, David, who enters a portal to a dark fantasy world where classic fairy tales (Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White) have all been inverted into unsettling derivatives. As David makes his way through the strange world, he learns to confront his fears and reconsiders his opinions about the life and family he left behind.

The novel is entertaining throughout and never feels derivative, even though the theme of traveling through a portal to another world is by no means original.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Back from Japan

We're back from Japan. Still processing, but musings and pictures to follow.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Big Book for Long Flight

So I'm traveling to Japan on Sunday and I'm looking for recommendations for a really long book for the flights. The kind of book that is fun and rewarding but might be intimidating to start due to its length. Basically, the kind of book you need to take a running start at.

Can anyone offer any suggestions?

Keep in mind that I'm looking for something that's fun and that will keep me riveted. I'm certainly not trying to fill in one of the many gaps in my reading of the classics (no Proust, thank you very much). The book also shouldn't be so huge in size that it doesn't pack well.

Wickedly Entertaining

I recently attended a production of Wicked at Shea's Performing Arts Center (in Buffalo, NY), and can't remember ever enjoying a musical so much. Everything seemed to work -- the music, the cast, the high-end theatrics, and, of course, the story and its rich link to The Wizard of Oz source material.

I was particularly impressed with Carmen Cusack, who plays Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West).

After the show ended, I couldn't stop thinking about it and kept coming back to the feeling that this was so much better than the second Star Wars trilogy and a far superior retelling of a story from the point of view of one of its villains. Perhaps Wicked revealed just how much you can do when you really shift the point of view and tease out the possibilities. Or maybe Elphaba is just more fun than Darth Vader. And more green.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a fabulous novel that is at once a chronicle of an overweight nerd and his cursed Dominican family and a sublime nerdboy paean.

The novel is richly narrated by multiple characters in English and Spanish, and the bloody history of the Dominican Republic provides the historic backdrop. What most distinguishes the book, though, are the many literary references, especially to Tolkien and comic books.

High marks to Díaz. I look forward to reading more fiction from him.