Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Le Spy

Spy novels, spy manuals, Othello, Edith Wharton, and the Koran supply the cryptic quotes introducing each chapter of Diane Johnson’s Lulu in Marrakech. Lulu is in Marrakech ostensibly to research female literacy programs. But her covert mission as a CIA agent is to keep an eye on the expats (including her new boyfriend Ian) and other donors who may be funding terrorist networks.

Lulu is drawn to Ian as husband material, but she suspects he isn’t telling her everything. When Gazi Al-Sayad shows up on the doorstep after leaving her Saudi Arabian husband, Lulu’s suspicions are unveiled…in a few more chapters. (Lulu is a novice after all.) With the help of her secret contact, Colonel Barka, Lulu eventually unravels the clues. Which leaves this reader to wonder, didn’t she read the epigraphs?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"Quirky Situations, Action, and Mild Language"

So reads the ratings warning on the back of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory DVD.

So, too, should read any label regarding the following five "quirkiest" reads o' mine of 2009.

My Misspent Youth by Meghan Daum

Confessions of a Window Dresser by Simon Doonan

Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer

When We Were Romans by Matthew Kneale

Godmother by Carolyn Turgeon