I received some Barnes and Noble coupons in the mail with my membership renewal.
You can imagine how pleased I was. Twenty percent off one item…and then 20% off another item…and then 10% off each with my membership card…that’s 60% off!
Perhaps you think I’m a traitor to indie bookstores, but I support them when I can. We have only two independent bookstores here, so tiny that they have no books I want. In Omaha and Iowa City there are excellent independent bookstores, but those cities are a long way away.
Anyway, I decided to get DOLLED UP IN RAGS to bicycle to Barnes and Noble with my coupons.
White-haired women frankly look more dignified if they are well-turned-out when they are shopping. So I put on capris instead of bicycling shorts. I wore an old peasant shirt, which has been washed so many times that the ruffles now look like rubber bands. (I wasn’t aware of that until I saw myself in a mirror at B&N.) And it’s a pity I wore my helmet on the trail. It made my hair stick up. It completely ruined the effect.
Nobody particularly cared, though. They let me have coffee, and they ignored me while I looked at books.
I decided to buy paperbacks today. (I’ll let you know if any of them are good.) Among them I saw many wonderful books I already read in hardback:
- BARBARA KINGSOLVER’S FLIGHT BEHAVIOR. In May I said: Kingsolver boldly interweaves the science and politics of climate change with the everyday lives of a struggling family. Not only is Flight Behavior an impassioned novel about climate change, it is also a mad housewife novel. The 28-year-old housewife heroine is so desperate for fulfillment that she is willing to throw away her marriage for a powerful crush on a hot telephone man, a scientist, or almost anybody. But on the mountain, when she is going to the rendezvous to meet the telephone man, she sees something that looks like cornflakes on the trees. Then it seems to turn to flames. She thinks she is seeing a kind of orange burning bush, or burning trees. …It turns out to be butterflies: monarch butterflies have veered off-course and flown to overwinter in Tennessee instead of Mexico because of climate change.
- TOM WOLFE’S BACK TO BLOOD. In March I said: it is extremely entertaining, the kind of book you can inhale… Set in Miami, Wolfe’s book interweaves the stories of many colorful characters, including Nestor, a Cuban-American policeman who dramatically rescues a Cuban refugee from the 70-foot mast of a yacht; Magdalena, a beautiful Cuban-American psychiatric nurse who wears very little clothing; John Smith, a Yalie who works for the Miami Herald and breaks a story about art forgery that upsets his editor, Edward T. Topping IV; Norman, a sex addiction psychiatrist who has sex addictions himself; a rich Russian who donated millions of dollars worth of paintings to the art museum; and Igor, an art forger.
- J. K. ROWLING’S THE CASUAL VACANCY. In July I said: It is a very dark, serious novel, not what I expected from the author of Harry Potter. The writing is sometimes a little rough, but she plots the story well and the characters are mostly well-drawn. Barry Fairbrother’s death causes a vacancy on the Parish Council, and the novel revolves around characters who are affected by the coming election.
- I almost bought Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette? I’ve heard many good things, but it looked awfully light. Did anyone read it? Is it good?
And then there were the hardcovers.
I wanted to buy Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings, but they didn’t have a copy. I was disappointed. It was just published this spring. Isn’t it too early to send it back to the publisher?
GERMAN LITERATURE IS BACK! I found a contemporary German novel that looked very good: Eugen Ruge’s In Times of Fading Light. Book description: “Alexander Umnitzer, who has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, leaves behind his ailing father to fly to Mexico, where his grandparents lived as exiles in the 1940s. The novel then takes us both forward and back in time, creating a panoramic view of the family’s history: from Alexander’s grandparents’ return to the GDR to build the socialist state, to his father’s decade spent in a gulag for criticizing the Soviet regime, to his son’s desire to leave the political struggles of the twentieth century in the past.”
And now for the D.E. Stevenson giveaway. Does anyone want my copy of D. E. Stevenson’s The Young Clementina (just reissued by Sourcebooks)?
The Young Clementina is a charming, light novel whose heroine, Charlotte, works in a travel bookstore in London. She grew up in the country and longs to go back: she always thought she’d marry Garth, her best friend, but her sister, Kitty married him instead. Charlotte returns to the country after Garth and Kitty’s ugly divorce. She takes care of their daughter, the young Clementina, while Garth travels to Africa. (Kitty has been found unfit for motherhood because of adultery.)
It’s an uneven novel, but I know there are lots of Stevenson fans out there. Leave a comment if you’d like the book.