Sunday, June 20, 2010
Sunday Salon: 20 June 2010
This week I finished two books and delved into a few more.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel: This graphic non-fiction novel has been on my TBR for ages. Once I started it completely consumed me. This is a memoir of Alison's childhood and specifically on her father (loving, cruel, and enigmatic), their family funeral home business, her parents' marriage, and Alison's own coming out. Bechdel's father was a closeted homosexual with a penchant for teen boys and died in what was either a horrific accident or a suicide. Bechdel discusses how her coming out and her father's death occurred in an uncomfortably close time period.
Bechdel's family memoir is beautiful, haunting, and complex. There were several elements that appealed to me, but most of all I loved her integration of mythology (the Minotaur and labyrinth and the ouroboros specifically) and the books and literary allusions that peppered the text (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Proust, and Collette, come to mind). In fact I decided to count this for the Once Upon a Time Challenge as Myth is such a prevalent theme in the text and I nearly counted it for the Bibliophilic Challenge.
Nothing That Meets the Eye by Patricia Highsmith: This collection of short stories had me enraptured. Gathered after Highsmith's death, these tales range from Flannery O'Connor-like family dramas to gothic tales that would make Shirley Jackson quiver with fear. Madness, suicide, crime, demented pigeons, and obsession are all found in these tales and I would recommend this collection to anyone who appreciates a fine tension and dash of suspense in short stories.
The Once Upon a Time Challenge closes today and I finished, but didn't read as widely as I wished. However I did do some reading for it. Comic Book Tattoo, Fun Home, Fables: The Dark Ages, and Castle Waiting all counted for this challenge. I'm in the midst of Neil Gaiman's short story collection Smoke and Mirrors, which I wasn't able to finish in time.
Last week I started several new books that are still in progress; The Priory by Dorothy Whipple and Smoke and Mirrors. I'm also still plugging along in Virginia Woolf's essay collection The Death of the Moth and Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. This week my plan is to finish Whipple and Gaiman and finally -- FINALLY -- start Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall.