I feel oddly compelled to post today, if only because posting today will continue the pattern into which I seem to have fallen...
So, just to make it worth your while:
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
This is a great book, with a compelling narrator who is so realistic that people have been fooled into thinking that Haddon himself is autistic. In fact, Haddon did work with autistic children, and he obviously has a good writer's gift of observation.
In brief, I laughed, I cried, etc., etc. Mind you, I bought the book primarily because (a) I had heard things, (b) it had a neat cover (I know, 'don't judge a book by its cover,' but really, who among us doesn't? It works as a metaphor, but actual books can definitely be judged by their covers.), and (c) the title is an allusion to a Sherlock Holmes story, 'Silver Blaze.' Yes, the book was great, but there was a significant lack of references to Holmes, although there was a curious incident, in the night-time, involving a dog.
Read another review of this book.
The Jane Austen Book Club
Karen Joy Fowler
I've been trying to remember which book this book reminds me of (aside from the obvious parallels with various Austen novels), and I can't! The premise is that six people - five women and one incongruous man - form an "all-Austen-all-the-time" book club. The women are of various ages, marital statuses and sexual orientations, and each one hosts one of the six club meetings.
Fowler manages to incorporate enough nuances of Austen characters into her own to let you know what she's doing, without the echoes drowning out her own story. After all, as 'Bride and Prejudice' demonstrated, Austen's characters and themes are universally recognized, if not universally experienced.
As any good Austen story, there are plenty of giggles, if not guffaws, and a few sardonic narrative grins. The narrator is the most interesting facet - this is a first-person narrative, but plural - "The six of us - Jocelyn, Bernadette, Sylvia, Allegra, Prudie and Grigg - made up the full roster..." So the implication is that the narrator is part of the group; however, the narrator's identity is never revealed. Every member of the group is discussed in the third person. I spent the second half of the book playing process-of-elimination, trying to figure out which of the six could "be" the "I" behind the "we."
Recommended, especially if you've read an Austen or two, and even more especially if you liked 'em.
Read the NYT review.
Shake Hands With the Devil
(not smiley appropriate)
Ok, here's the thing. I feel morally obligated to read this book. This book is well-written. This book scares the bejeezus outta me and I cannot open it right now. I've managed to read up to the end of the first day following the explosion of the President's plane. I know what's coming.
This book is an exercise in frustration. Every step of the way, Dallaire details the attempts he made to avert what was increasingly inevitable.
This book is a tear-jerker. I was sobbing by the end of his preface, for goodness sake.
This book is, above all, terrifying. The human race can be a cold, bloody-minded monstrous thing. Dallaire writes about a military observer's visits to Rwandan schools about a month before the genocide began:
"At one school, he noticed the teachers undertaking an administrative exercise: they were registering the ethnic identities of their pupils and seating them according to who was Tutsi and who was Hutu. This struck him as bizarre, since children in Rwanda were not require to carry identity cards. As he visited other schools, he discovered that the same procedure was taking place. We mistakenly assumed that this was just another example of ethnicity at play in Rwanda."
Recommended, but be prepared to feel compelled to hug small children at random.
If you have time, there's a transcript of an address by Romeo Dallaire to the Carnegie Council, as well as tons of other material - both pro and anti-Dallaire - widely available for perusal.