Friday, January 20, 2012

Two Books

Therapist gave me two books for Christmas. I love when she does this, as she usually goes to Powell's City of Books, which often features lesser known titles. Or at least, they are lesser known to me. What fun!


The first one is AFTERTASTEicon, A Novel in Five Courses, which is a delicious premise. The main character, Mira, is a chef who owns and runs a New York restaurant with her husband, Jake. Her world implodes when she discovers her husband with the new sexy maitress in flagrante in the office at the restaurant. A bit predictable, and I didn't always feel as though the whole 'novel in five courses' thing was tied as closely to the story as I would have liked. That said, I liked it more and more as it went on. It was an enjoyable read.

icon by Hilary Thayer Hamann. Wow.


I love Hamann's writing. On almost every page, I was struck by how she put insights/phrases/sentences/ideas together. The writing is stunning. As Therapist would say, the way she puts things "stops me in my tracks". This is writing to savor.

This is a book book, not a Nook book. I love the cover and the feel of this book. Yet, I almost wish I read it on the Nook. Remember when I wrote that one of the features I love about the Nook is the ability to highlight passages? On almost every page of this book I had passages or sentences or phrases that I've wanted to highlight. I took notes and marked pages. Here are just a few bits of this wonderful writing (chosen so as not to be spoilers to the story!). Warning: you may have to read them slowly and more than once:

"I decided to lie in bed and wait for people to come home and switch on appliances. I wanted all the machines to be on. I did not like the way the appliances were sitting there, arrogant and fat and proving through muteness that everyone was elsewhere, involved with other things, things separate from me."

"Part of my brain, the thinking part, appreciated everyone's excellent intentions. But the remainder, the loose piles of random brain shavings and brain bits, feared the lazy swag of streamers and the humiliated balloons and the smell of spilled beer on the buckling barn floor."

"The dessert carousel stood sentry at the door. It was like a phosphorescent obelisk, twirling sleepily. The pastries marched around in a demented parade - towering meringues, tilting cakes, mammoth pies and puddings, balloon-like jelly rolls, surreal mousses."

"I would become cognizant of a staffer's acne or excessive weight or hair oil or hand-me-downs when I happened to be talking to them in the hallway and the 'popular' kids would pass and stare. This put me in a difficult predicament, because I was fourteen at the time. When you're fourteen, pretty much everything puts you in a difficult predicament."

ANTHROPOLOGY OF AN AMERICAN GIRLicon is a gorgeous story about a girl growing up (Eveline, in the 70's, on the East Coast), growing away from her family, into her life, her body and her sexuality. And the way it is written is incredible.

This book was almost hard to read because the writing was so good. I usually read pretty quickly, but with this book I found I read and reread passages many times, and often had to stop and refocus to find my place back in the story.

I didn't necessarily love one of the messages I got from the book (which I can't share in this non-spoiler blog post! If you've read it, email me and we can compare notes!), but I did love the writing.

What book have you read that had writing that stopped you in your tracks?

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