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Recent Reading

Somehow my reading’s gotten ahead of my blogging, so here are brief descriptions of recent recreational reading, all courtesy of the public library.

I finished “The Likeness” by Tana French this morning. It’s the sequel to “In the Woods” which was a focus of an earlier blog entry. Both stories are set in contemporary Ireland, though there’s little “Irish” focus. I enjoyed “The Likeness,” once I decided that it didn’t matter that I considered the plot entirely implausible. This book follows the story of Cassie, one of the detectives in the original story. Here, Cassie goes undercover among a group of four roommates.  Their fifth roommate has been murdered; the murdered woman looks exactly like Cassie, and she was carrying identification showing the name of a made-up persona that Cassie had used years before when she was working undercover. I just didn’t believe that Cassie could come across as Lexie, the fifth roommate. The roommates were also best friends, and I can’t imagine that anybody could go into that kind of situation and not be outed within minutes. I decided to set my doubts aside and just enjoy the story. French writes well, and is especially skilled at creating interesting, not stereotypical, characters.  I especially enjoyed the relationships among the police. I’d recommend it to people who enjoy suspense as well as mystery.

Hurry Down Sunshine” by Michael Greenberg is a father’s memoir of his daughter’s first descent into the world of serious mental illness. LIving in a shaky relationship with a landlord, and perpetually on the edge, Greenberg wonders often whether his lifestyle choices led to Sally’s illness. Her first “acting out” in their Greenwich Village neighborhood hits him full force, as he tried to make decisions, faces the implications of lack of health insurance, and wants so badly to do right by his daughter. It’s a strongly personal story. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m a big fan of memoir, even when it’s about difficult times. Greenberg does a great job of keeping his story focused. Fairly few other characters enter. They include Sally’s stepmother, Greenberg’s brother, the landlord, and Sally’s mother. But there is still a sense of how his life must go on, even as he can’t get his mind away from his daughter. A brief postscript tells what’s happened with Sally since Greenberg began the book.

I picked up “The Bible Salesman” by Clyde Edgerton at Eiseley Branch Library one afternoon. I love Clyde Edgerton novels. This is t ypical–a southern setting, interesting characters who want so badly to do the right thing, and a quirky plot. And underneath the funniness, a fundamental respect for people. In this case, a young and naive Bible Salesman named Henry Dampier gets involved with Preston Clearwater, a man he believes works for the FBI solving car thefts. Clearwater is clearly a crook. Their adventures make for a light read, with the reader always wondering just exactly how long it’s going to take Henry to wake up and smell the coffee. I wouldn’t describe this as very often laugh-out-loud, but there’s something always a little sly about Edgerton. I picture him writing with a perpetual chuckle. This story seems unlikely and almost silly, but the way that people respond to it seems quite likely indeed.

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