Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An Object of Beauty

I couldn't help picturing the opening credits as I was reading Steve Martin's latest novel- An Object of Beauty. Like Martin's Shopgirl (starring Clare Danes), this novel features a beautiful woman yearning to live richly (but not worrying to much about her eyelashes).

Lacey Yeager moves to New York to break into the business of art. She begins in the basement of Sotheby's but soon rises to work with upper level art dealers and collectors.. After coming into a mysterious financial windfall, Yeager is asked to leave the auction house but finds employment with a lucrative gallery. After charming clients and maintaining a transatlantic relationship with a French art collector, she achieves her dream of opening her own gallery.

Martin's cinematic style sets this book apart from the typical girl makes good in the big city tale. There's the narrator providing the voice over - he's a friend of Yeager but admits that some of what he is telling is gossip and some of it is imagination. There's the visual- photographs of some of the paintings are interspersed throughout the book. There's the dialogue - snappy, smart, and polished yet believable. Finally, Martin also includes an element of suspense. We're not sure how Yeager has financed her endeavor, but we are eager to see how the narrator will reveal it to us.

And we probably will coming to a theater near us soon.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

True North

True North by Jim Harrison takes place in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

How apropos you might say.

Josephine and I signed up for library cards last week and after deliberating quite some time between the Clifford and Strawberry Shortcake DVD, we had only a few minutes in adult fiction where I grabbed the thickest book I saw (one-handedly since I was also carrying a very heavy, sleeping Elliott). But I digress...The thickest book happened to be True North.

In True North, the narrator fishes, ruminates on religion and philosophy (what he calls his "daffy trances"), and tries to atone for his father's (and grandfather's) beastly behavior. Set mostly in the U.P., the scenery enchants with verdant summers and stark winters. The narrator, David, moves somewhat restlessly in both seasons. As an adult, he has made the study of his family's decimation of the Michigan forest his life's work. Along the way he attracts women both fierce and soft, but he often requires no more company than his dog Carla. He worries there is something inherently wrong or damaged in this. Thus he tries to figure out how to (or if he should) forgive his parents who may have inflicted the damage.

While reading this book, I was reminded of W. D. Wetherell’s short story “The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant.” I guess I'm charmed by the musings of awkward teenage boys and the introspective adults they become.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Soon I Will Be Invincible

I stole this book (by Austin Grossman) off my husband's bookshelf and stuck it in my purse for the long wait at the Secretary of State's office to get my driver's license. Flashbacks to my driver's ed class in high school had me so nervous by the time I got there, I couldn't focus on more than a few pages. Luckily Michigan only requires a fee, proof of residency, and a snip off your old license and you are good to go.

That over with, I can settle down in front of the open window (78 degrees is the high today) and indulge in this novel of superheroes and evil geniuses.