Monday, September 04, 2006

Like Water For Chocolate

Like Water For Chocolate
Originally uploaded by barbfecteau.
I finished the last book on the summer reading list sitting in my favorite chair in the world – a black wicker rocker next to a window in my grandmother’s attic, the chair in which I did all my best summer reading as a kid. I did a little dance of joy when I finished. Then I realized that I had to end my entire project with a book that is very hard to describe.

It is described as a book in monthly installments with recipes. It is actually written from the script of the movie - which is unusual for a book that is so well written. It is a story of love that is forbidden. Tita, the youngest daughter of a Mexican family is not allowed to marry but must serve her mother all her life. Her kingdom is the kitchen and she infuses everything she cooks with her joy and anguish, her frustration and her freedom. Basically, this book is about Mexico, sex and food. Since I haven’t read much about Mexico I will focus on the food aspect. Where is the sex? - you may ask. Um, all over the book! But lets talk about cooking. Yes, cooking!

I just read an excellent book about food, Julie and Julia. It is the end product of a blog wherein an underemployed actress in New York works out her professional disappointments by attempting to cook every recipe in Julia Child’s two volume French Cooking guide in one year. It is funny and moving and an inspiration to all who set ridiculous goals for themselves and then document them in blogs. Of course I can’t think of any specific examples at this time…

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was something of a disappointment to me! I expected to love it. And I liked it fine – there were some very funny bits. But it didn’t take me by surprise with its wonderfulness the way that some other books on this list did. And I though that surely with my love of Ender’s Game I would surely appreciate the science-fiction-y-ness of it.

Alas, I did not. I liked it fine, though.

And I already recommended all the science fiction I know and then some. Ooh! But it is English! So I will recommend a few English things that I loved. Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson is brilliant and hysterically funny. Atkinson has a new novel that got wonderful reviews, but was far to violent for me! I also love The Adrian Mole Diaries and frankly anything (including its legion of sequels) by Sue Townsend. Let’s see…one more to make it three. Okay, this is a stretch – Tryst, by Elswyth Thane, is simply the most English seeming book I have ever read - even though it was written by an American. It is an old fashioned ghost story with a bit of a love story. It has nothing at all to do with The Hitchhiker’s Guide, other than the country in which it is set. And even then, Hitchhiker is only really set in England for a few minutes!

The Crazy Horse Electric Game

Crazy Horse Electric Game
Originally uploaded by barbfecteau.
The Crazy Horse Electric Game is not my favorite Chris Crutcher book. Don’t get me wrong. It is really interesting, fascinating even. But it lacks the realism that is so vivid in his other books. Yes, I am sure that most disabled runaways end up attending an experimental school (tuition free!) and living with a pimp with a secret and nearly dating a beautiful, emotionally wounded hooker and, of course, being completely cured! Hope I didn’t wreck the story. This book felt like it got away from him. It was fun to read, but it never felt real.

That being said, the character of Willie was extremely well written- human and wounded and frustrating. And the secondary characters were richly written and fleshed out the story brilliantly. It was just the story that bugged me. Which is odd, because I am a story person above all!

This book does give me an opportunity to recommend two books narrated by disabled characters. The first is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Hadden. I absolutely loved this book beyond measure. The protagonist is a boy who has Asperger’s Syndrome – a form of autism where the afflicted person is very smart but unable to process other people’s responses or recognize their emotions or motives. He fines a dead dog and proceeds to investigate the murder. This book is great. Another recommendation is Stoner and Spaz by Ron Koertge. It is the story of a friendship between an emotionally wounded, self-medicating girl and a boy with cerebral palsy. I liked it a lot.