Saturday, April 26, 2008

So much for sleeping in on a Saturday morning - woke up before 6 a.m. Steve has the house windows open so the chirping of the birds are driving me crazy. What a racket. I's in my office while Steve is still sleeping. Normally he is up long before me so this kind of feels good.

Arrived home a bit before 5:00 yesterday. I was so tired I dragged my stuff in, sat outside on the rocking chair for a bit, and then went to bed. I slept until 7:30. Got up to have a bowl of soup for dinner and crawled back in. This trip about did me in. Glad I don't have to do it until July. But it was great to see everyone.

I finished listening to Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides on the way home. Along with the 2003 Pulitzer Prize it also won the Audie Award for audiobooks. I felt like I was "watching" a movie in my head as I listened to the Greek accents of Desdemona and Lefty and the Americanization of the accents as the family settles into a new life in Detroit. The interview with Eugenides at the end of the audiobook indicates that Middlesex is not autobiographical in any way other than being set in his home town of Detroit and the main character is born the same year as the author. However, Cal/Calliope's first person narration is so compelling you feel as if you are reading an autobiography, supplemented by the omniscient third person observations of family and friends. I take back my comment from the last posting that I would not recommend this to a teen. Certainly not to the "average" teen who asks me for a good read, but certainly to the more mature teen who is ready for a 500+ book that delves in the sexual identity of a teen. As I listened to this book I remembered a few of the girls who, when they reached puberty, looked more like boys than they did girls, but the possibility of any of them being a hermaphrodite never crossed my mind. As a teenager I don't think I even knew that word, let alone what it meant. However, many teens will relate to Cal's need to leave his family to find himself after he reads the doctor's file and realizes that what it starkly states, and what the doctor is telling them, are two different things. I was enthralled through all 16 CDS and told everyone at ECU about this book. Man this guy can write!! Is is so thought provoking you cannot read and set asides - it requires discussion. Now I need to check Half Price Books for a copy of Eugenides' first book The Virgin Suicides - set in 1970s Detroit and addresses the suicides of five teenage girls within one extended family. Yes, Eugenides writes edgy novels, but these are the types of novels that will hold older teens' attention who want more than the YA realistic novel can give them. I suspect I won't set Eugenides' first novel aside without talking about it any easier than I can Middlesex - which, by the way, is the name of the modernistic home Cal's family moves into in the exclusive Grosse Pointe area of suburban Detroit. The only home offered for viewing to a potential Greek buyer.

I'll stay with controversial edgy writers and discuss Frances Lia Block's Blood Roses, a HarperCollins title that will arrive in bookstores next month. Unlike Eugenides, who writes flowing prose about multi generational families, Block writes sparse modern/urban fantasy novels and short story collections that are also intense and edgy . Every word can stab like knife, or the thorn of the elusive blood rose that the two sisters search for in the canyon above LA, even though it is said you only see them if you die. Going against everything their mother has told them about strangers, they enter the home of a photographer where the young man who lured them there from the record store begins to tell stories of Jeffrey Dahmer as they sit on plastic covered furniture. When the older man leaves the room, the younger man changes his mind and tells the girls to hurry and leave, which they do. Only then do they find the blood red rose bush. Thus begins this "cannot-put-it down" short collection of deliciously creepy tales. Block does not tell straight forward, cute stories. Her writing insists the reader vicariously enter bizarre, scary, sensual scenes - such as tattoos slowly covering a teenage girl's body as she lusts for the tattoo artist and Hollywood mothers who are youth sucking vampires. What causes the hair to rise on my arms when I read Block's books (which I love) is the realization that there often is no line between where the fantasy and reality begin and end, causing me to ponder if we always know what reality truly is. Do you? Sometimes fantasy, though scary at times, makes a person feel more alive than life itself.

Must leave you with a fun one. It was so darn hot when I got home yesterday I looking over at the subdivision pool wishing it were open. I'd have been the sixth in line after Lynne Berry's five ducks in Duck Dunks as this rambunctious bunch goes to the beach. In rhyming text, Berry will delight both parents and little ones as they vicariously hit the beach to skip, run, and dive in where they bob, spin, paddle, and eventually get the shivers so it is time for sun and lunch and some kite flying. They return home very tired little ducks from their day at the beach. Hiroe Nakata's delightful illustrations, rich with the blue of the sea and the golden yellow of the sand as a background, bring these ducks delightfully to life, their round little bodies decked out in bikinis and trunks. For parents who plan to take their little ones to the beach - this is the perfect book to get them excited about what is to come. For PreK-2 librarians - a great end of the school year storytime book. Wrong time of the year for Berry's Duck Skates - will have to wait for winter for that one. Thank goodness that is months away.

That's it for today. I may go crawl back in bed now that the birds have stopped. Hopefully there aren't too many errors in here. The birds may have woke me, but I didn't said I was lucidly awake! :-)