Reading for September, 2005

A more fruitful month for reading, though I didn’t finish those books which were previously unfinished.
Carol Shields, A Fairly Conventional Woman. There were two copies of Happenstance at the library, and one was twice as long as the other. I took the longer copy, which was a dos-a-dos bound copy of two Shields novels. A marketing gimmick, I guess. So I read The Wife’s Tale, which was actually the more recently (1982) written of the two novels.

A blurb inside the cover of Happenstance said something about “Carol Shields has found her place among writers like Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro.” Now that is some faint praise, all three are female Canadian writers, and all three were born in the 1930’s.
I had only read one novel by Atwood, so I decided to pick up Oryx and Crake. It is a breezy read, the story is primarly told through flashbacks as Snowman, the narrator, tries to piece together why things worked out so badly — he’s the last man alive on Earth, or something. Atwood hammers on her narrative symbols like they were kitchen pots and pans, and her cast of misanthropes were worn out characters back in the 80’s. I’m not quite sure, but I think the main message of the book is: don’t let kinds from dysfunctional homes grow up to become mad scientists.
Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go. See my notes elsewhere.
Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop. Number 61 on the Modern Library list.

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