Sunday, October 19, 2008


I can't begin to explain how much I enjoyed The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. It was marvelous. If you love Rebecca or Jane Eyre, then please pick up The Thirteenth Tale. The only disappointing thing is that the author has published no other books (at least that I can find). It was a wonderful read. "Do you intend to tell me the truth?" one of its characters asks. Is that really the point of a good story?

It was mesmerizing. Finally, a book written by someone who clearly adores books and the written word. The story is dark, but not humorless. I certainly wont be putting this one up to trade on I loved it. It had everything that a novel should: it had a good point; it was superbly written; and I can't stop comparing other books to it. I finished it weeks ago, reading at least four other books since then and none of them compare.

Having finished The Haunting by Shirley Jackson shortly after the The Thirteenth Tale, it was a bit of a disappointment. I've enjoyed some of her others stories much more. It wasn't nearly as haunting as I had expected. The old movie was more interesting to me than the book, and don't even bother watching the remake. I'd probably eat blood pudding again rather than watch the remake, and that ended with me gagging, so you can imagine how good the movie was. Also, I don't think I've ever read such a short book with so many semicolons in it; perhaps, the driving test I took when I was sixteen compares.

Everyone raves about Jodi Picoult. She's definitely an accomplished writer, very adept at switching perspectives between characters. She has an identifiable style, but I was left with a who cares kind of feeling when I finished in Plain Truth. It might have been me. That's why I'm going to try one of her other ones.

The Last Duel by Eric Jager was fun. It was sort of like a short survey book of 14th century French culture told by through the rivalry between the Carrouges and the Gris. I was entertained by it, turning pages to see what happened to its characters. It certainly served to illustrate how brutal life can be. It provided some interesting information about what French 14th century culture was like, particularly for women. I found it to be informative, but I wanted more insights. The book wasn't without insights, but it was almost too short; I yearned for more from the author in the way of conclusions. Sometimes after watching a particular movie or book, I sit and think: Damn it. I wish someone else had made this or someone else had written this. I did not think that after finishing The Last Duel, but I did wish that Eric Jager had done something more with the piece. It was very good and I enjoyed it, but I felt like it was missing something--something that Jager could have given it.

Now, Randy Pausch certainly gave his all to the Last Lecture. Much has been written about this. Websites all over the internet have his actual lecture posted in print and pictures. I wont go into the details of it here, because there's no reason to describe it where others have done so quite well. I'll simply say that my mother-in-law left the book here after there last trip in September. She seemed to think it was ok but not wonderful. I liked it. It made me laugh aloud; he preserved who he was in life while confronting horrible circumstances and the scariest thing of all: death. I found it pretty inspirational and I'm going to loan it to my Dad because I think he'll like it too. From it, I took this sound advice...Dream, help others dream, and enjoy the journey of making your dreams and others' dreams come true, because your journey may be both longer and shorter than you think.