Friday, December 28, 2007


DBC Pierre's Vernon God Little won the Booker prize in 2003, and I've wanted to read it ever since. However, I found the story frustrating rather than funny because, really, how many bad decisions can a teenager make? This is not one of those books where the journey is better than the destination. In fact, you have to endure the journey to earn the destination--a very satisfying ending with a message. Plus, the events and characters are completely outrageous--caricatures almost--even for Texas/Texans. I continually had to remind myself that a story does not have to be believable to be worthwhile.

EAT, PRAY, LOVE by Elizabeth Gilbert

I was originally put off by both the title and the premise of Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir Eat, Pray, Love, but she reeled me in long before the end of the Eat section. I was so enamored of this book that I taped her Oprah segment and attended her lecture at The Georgia Center for the Book. To say that she has a few fans is an understatement. My biggest difficulty in reading this book was in putting aside my envy and replacing it with admiration for her spunk. Eat, Pray, Love is way more than your standard tale of a spiritual journey; it offers a chance to be enriched by the experiences of someone who traveled where most of us will never go--emotionally, spiritually, or geographically. Gilbert knows how to tell a story, especially about the people she met and the wisdom they shared with her, and now her readers. You can't make this stuff up.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Anderson Cooper breaks from his objective viewpoint in his memoir Dispatches from the Edge. He interleaves tales of his travels to various scenes of disaster and unrest with memories of his father's death and his brother's unexplained suicide. The primary focus of the book turns out to be the devastation in New Orleans and the surrounding area in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. He asks the question, and rightly so, as to how bodies can remain uncollected in this country for days on end. He makes the point that in many developing countries the people have no expectation of help from the government and know that recovery from disaster is on their shoulders. We have different expectations, however, in the U.S., but the various levels of government failed miserably in this case. Can it happen again? You bet.

THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy's The Road is a fast read and lives up to the hype as his masterpiece. It's very dark and therefore may not be for everyone. It's a post-apocalypse story with virtually no women characters. Churning up memories of Stephen King's The Stand, it also shares some themes with the Mad Max movies and Will Smith's current I Am Legend, based on the Richard Matheson book, but its imagery is more effective than any of these. It's a very emotional story about a father and son in the bleakest of circumstances, and I highly recommend it. You'll have a lot of questions about what actually happened, but that's the author's way, I guess, of saying that it doesn't really matter, because it's not about how we got here. The form of the novel reflects the unstructured world being described, in that there are no chapter breaks. Not all complete sentences either (like this one). It won the 2007 Pulitzer for fiction. Don't miss it.

Cormac McCarthy also wrote All the Pretty Horses and No Country for Old Men, plus about 8 other novels.