Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Sunday Salon - 6-14-09

I told myself I had to finish Louise Erdrich's The Red Convertible: Selected and New Stories 1978-2008 before writing one word of my Sunday Salon post. I mean, there was no way I could justify telling y'all that I'm still reading the same book for the third week in a row. Never mind that it's 494 pages.

But as of a few moments ago, I have indeed finished what is an incredible collection of 36 short stories. (I read the last six stories today.) Louise Erdrich is a new author for me, and I hadn't heard of The Red Convertible before reading Beth Kephart's blog post with her review from the Chigago Tribune. From Beth's description, this seemed like my kind of book and it did not disappoint. I'll have a full review up soon (I like to review my books ASAP after reading) but I know I will be giving this collection 4.5 stars out of 5. The half point (I know, I sound like I'm some Olympic judge or something, right?) is because there were two or three stories that just didn't grab me, and of those I didn't finish them. Still, that's a pretty good track record when you're talking 36 stories over the span of three decades.

I know a lot of people aren't short story fans, but I happen to love them. The Red Convertible is one that you should not miss if you also enjoy short stories. I think it would also be a good collection for someone who doesn't regularly read short stories.

For my audiobook this week, I've been listening to Loving Frank on my new car's CD player. (And despite all my verklemptedness earlier this week, I'm loving my new car.) Unlike my Dodge Caravan, this car has all the bells and whistles. We're talking power windows, power locks, and a CD player! Yes, for seven years, my minivan lacked such amenities. The only luxurious aspect of my 2002 Caravan was the cassette tape feature, so my audio book choices were rather limited. Now that I've entered the last century, a whole new audio world has opened up. The new car has MP3 capabilities too - I'm not there yet, obviously.

Anyway, I've been listening to Loving Frank this week and am in the middle of Chapter 27. Am liking this much more than I expected. I didn't know much about Frank Lloyd Wright before beginning Nancy Hoban's book, but ... wow. Loving Frank tells the story of the scandalous, illicit, highly-publicized love affair between Frank and Maymah Borthwick Cheney, who are both married to others. It's scandalous because they both abandon their respective spouses and kids (Frank is the father of 6, Maymah the mother of 3) to live and travel together for several months in Europe. Oh, and did I mention that all this occurs in 1909? Hence, the scandalous nature of the tryst, because apparently such occurances weren't the norm back in the day.

Frank and Maymah come across in the book as incredibly self-absorbed people and not really very likeable, in my opinion. Particularly Frank. Still, I can't stop listening to this, which is a testament to Hoban's skill as a writer. With only five CDs left, there's a strong possibility I will finish this by week's end.

All right, time to select my next book. I have The Condition by Jennifer Haigh due back to the library on the 23rd with no more renewals left. Same for Without a Backward Glance by Kate Veitch. A dilemma, since I'll only be able to read one of them this week.

Have you read either of these? Which one do you recommend?


Amanda said...

I like short stories, but i have a hard time reading collections. Each one is a finished piece, so it's hard to start a new story every couple pages. I usually can only read one a day, which makes for some slow reading...

Amy said...

Congrats on finishing the chunkster. I'm trying to like short stories more...or I should say, I'm trying to read more of them.

I haven't read either of the books you mention, though I have Without a Backward Glance in the TBR. Have a great week!

Betty and Boo's Mommy said...

Amanda ~ I agree, I'm usually the same way with reading collections of short stories. And The Red Convertible is definitely a collection that, while wonderful stories, would be great to read piecemeal instead of back-to-back.

Amy ~ I'll be interested to hear what you think of Without a Backward Glance. It looks interesting, doesn't it? I still don't know which one I will choose next ... ah, the weighty decisions of a reader! :)

JoAnn said...

Like Amanda, I only read one short story a day. I'm off to check my library's website for The Red Convertible...and I'll look forward to your full review!