I have some good excuses for the current backlog. The books here are only part of it – another post coming shortly!
In August I was either (happily) doing things away from my computer or madly trying to create a great deal of teaching material that would help me deal with going back to school “COVID Style”.
But let’s step away from all that now and talk “BOOKS”!
Pastoralia by George Saunders
Pastoralia is the name of the book and of the first short story in this short story collection.
It is the best one. It is engrossing, surprising, and gave me the same “punch” as reading another George, George Orwell. The tale is set in a weird theme park where modern people are supposed to live/act like cavemen for extended periods of time, in a desperate attempt to make a living. As the relationships and actions of the characters involved (the “cavemen”, the park directors, their family members) unfold and become dramatic, we find ourselves staring at a picture of aspects of American modern society, absurd yet very real and familiar.
It’s not that the other stories aren’t good. I would have enjoyed them more if I had read each one month apart. The stories are different from each other, especially “Sea Oak” (full of surprises!) although “The End of Firpo in the World” also deserves a proper mention. That one could be used for discussions in training educators, and in parenting sessions (Yeah, I’m a teacher. Where were you, school, with this kid?!).
The trouble with reading George Saunder’s stories one after another is that while the events from one story to the next are totally different, the main characters have a lot in common. I’ve also read (several years ago) Saunder’s “10th of December” which is a good collection, but I had the same problem.
I don’t think I read the last story in either collection…
Nonetheless, let me make it clear – I do recommend reading this book!
Origin by Dan Brown
Once you have read a book by Dan Brown you know what you are getting into when you choose to read another one, the structure is the same. It was an enjoyable audiobook to have for an August spent more at home than usual, though too long (over 19 hours!). I enjoyed the first part more, especially the detailed descriptions of the Guggenheim Bilbao museum. At some point, Brown slows down the plot too much with his lengthy explanations. In addition, as someone who has taught Asimov’s story “True Love” many times, I was not surprised one bit by the ending.
Sometimes, a Dan Brown is what you need for your mood and you get what you expect to get. That’s a good thing.
The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen
Sweet is an understatement. AN UNDERSTATEMENT.
I read it because I was in the mood for “sweet and comforting “(before going back to school) and it was a free Kindle book from Amazon.
So many other books worth reading out there!