On March 21st I hatched this ambitious plan to read six books in a week, which would beat my record of four the week before. I failed. It took me two weeks and a day–today–to finish them all. So here are mini-book reports on them all.
First, the new William Tapply. It was so memorable I had to look at the author’s website to remember the title of the book (which was, by the way, Hell Bent). http://www.williamgtapply.com/ And don’t ask me what happened in the book. No really–it isn’t that it was that bad, but Tapply suffers a bit when compared with Walter Mosley. At least when you read them in close proximity to one another; sorry, Bill.
Moving right along to Mosley, I was very disappointed in Gone Fishin’. It was crude, but then again, it was one of his earlier books. So was Black Betty, which was much better but at the end even I became confused about who was whose child and who killed who and why. In his later books featuring Easy Rawlins, Easy becomes a much more complex character, and Mosley’s style is much refined. It’s both simpler and more subtle, indicating to me that Mosley matured as both a writer and a man, which is something you would hope for in a man after 20 years or more.
Jonathan Kellerman’s book Bones turned out to be one of his best.
Finally, I read the two books by Michael Shaara: For Love of the Game and The Herald. The former book was found among his papers and published after his death in 1988. It was perfectly charming, and contains a nail-biting account of pitching the perfect baseball game. I was screaming (well, silently) for the hero to stop pitching before he had a heart attack or dislocated his arm. Much like The Broken Place, I kept having this sense of impending doom about the outcome of the book, but I was again pleasantly surprised. On a poignant note, a sticker inside the front said the book had been donated to the Tallahassee library by the author’s widow.
The Herald was published in 1981, and while it kept my attention, it felt surprisingly dated. We’ve been so inundated by doomsday books and movies that it’s hard not to become jaded by it.
So it’s onward now. Friday I picked up only two new books: one is a tiny little book called The Marriage of True Minds which promises to be funny. The main character “becomes engaged in illegal guerilla warfare for the sake of animals wild and domestic”. And ends up having to be defended by his lawyer ex-wife.
The second book, which counts as two since it’s 562 pages long, is The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. The plot seems complicated, involving a mute boy who flees into the wilderness of Wisconsin with three dogs after the death of his father, which he suspects was murder. What’s interesting about this is that the writer’s name is David Wroblewski and he grew up in Wisconsin, and his picture on the book cover makes him look African-American. If that’s true, that makes him one of three African-Americans ever to grow up in Wisconsin. (Minnesota has four; Iowa has seven.) The web has not been helpful, other than to tell me it was a pick for Oprah’s book club, and that the book was on the NY Times bestseller list for 13 weeks. I’m intrigued, which is mostly the point of reading.