Where's the book?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Book #16: A wild ride with Junot and a visit with Anna

Before I get to the book of the blog, can I just take a sec to tell you my favorite book-related quote of the last few weeks? Yes? Thanks.

My new bff
It's from the Sunday Times Book Review "By the Book" column, which each week asks a famous author to answer some questions on favorite books, favorite characters, etc. A couple of weeks ago it was Anna Quindlen's turn in the hot seat. The first question was, "What's your favorite book of all time?" Anna had me at hello when she chose "Middlemarch" because, "I think of it as perfection." Her other two choices were "Bleak House" and "Pride and Prejudice," which, given my passion for 19th-century Brits, made me fall in love with her even more.

Best Elizabeth Bennet
She went on to say her favorite character from literature is Elizabeth Bennet and her favorite childhood character was Jo March. If I have to tell you what books those two are from then you and I can't be friends any more (jk: "Pride and Prejudice" and "Little Women," respectively). I liked her reason for choosing my dear friend Jo: "She wanted to be a writer. She stopped caring that she wasn't pretty. She sold her hair...I even forgave her for not marrying Laurie." I had a hard time with that decision, too, until she met Professor Bhaer. He made not marrying Laurie forgivable.

But my favorite quote of the interview was when Anna (we're on a first-name basis now) was asked what kind of books she steers clear of, and she answered: "I think 'experimental fiction' is a synonym for 'Give me a break.'" Wonderful, no?

As for my latest read (#16; I'm a little behind my one-book-a-week plan), it's "This Is How You Lose Her" by Junot Diaz. I had read and loooooved his "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" and although this time it wasn't love and adore, it was definitely liked a lot and thoroughly enjoyed.

The new book is a lot shorter and less dense than "Oscar." It's a series of inter-related stories, most of them centering around the amorous adventures of Yunior, familiar to readers of Diaz's first two books. The Times called his writing "turbo-charged" and that's the perfect word; the book is an electrifying roller-coaster ride and all you have to do is buckle up and hold on tight.

The stories, for the most part, center around love, the ups and downs and then downs some more, of his passionate and troubled relationships. But calling them "love stories" would sell them short. They are also about family, about being an American and not-an-American, about Dominican culture, about fathers and sons. You can read the book in a day or two (mainly because it's so hard to put down), but you'll think about it for much longer.

And when it's over, you'll have just one desire. To read more. Write faster, Junot. Please.

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