Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Sunday Salon: Three Home Runs and The One That Struck Out

We're having a gorgeous Labor Day weekend here, weather-wise.  My in-laws are visiting for the long holiday weekend and last night we all went to see our minor-league baseball team, which is always a fun night out. 

Baseball is actually a big part of my current read, The Best Kind of Different: Our Family's Journey with Asperger's Syndrome by Shonda Schilling, mother of four and wife of baseball pitcher Curt Schilling. It's the story of their family's experiences with their now-11 year old son Grant, who has Asperger's Syndrome. So far, I'm finding this to be a very honest memoir and although our family is very different than the Schillings, much of Grant's challenges and Shonda and Curt's reactions to them are very similar to our experiences with Boo.

(We're listening to Frank Sinatra as I write this post and ironically, "There Used to Be a Ballpark" just came on. This is one of my many, many favorite Frank songs. "And the summer went so quickly this year ...."  Frank always tells it like it is, doesn't he?)

And speaking of people who tell it like it is (or should be), my week started by finishing Seth Godin's newest book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? which I really enjoyed.  (See my review here.) I'm a fan of Godin's and this book, while a little bit of a departure from his typical marketing books, is still the straightforward, classic Godin that one expects.

After Linchpin, I moved on to The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien. I had all good intentions of reading this when Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness did her read-along, but I didn't get to it in time. This was an incredibly well-written and powerful book, one that I agree should be required reading for every American (as is written on the jacket of my copy of The Things They Carried). 

The Things They Carried was one I read in just two days (it's fairly short, so easy enough to do) and then it was onto a short story collection by a new-to-me author, Greg Mulcahy, that I borrowed from the library. You all know how much I love short stories and I usually have a pretty good track record with them, but occasionally there will be a collection that I'm just unable to connect with.  Such was the case, unfortunately, with Carbine.

I read the first nine (of 41) stories before deciding this one wasn't for me. Of those I read, most were very short - only couple pages (and some barely two pages)  - and at first I thought that was the reason they weren't resonating.  I think it is something more, though.  None of the characters had names, which led to them blending together in my mind. I'm sure that was intentional and a way to show that the characters could be anyone, even oneself, but the abstract nature of the ones I read just wasn't working for me. 

Abandoning this collection also made me wonder about when the appropriate point is to give up on a short story collection. I'd like to think with nine stories I gave Carbine a fair chance, as I usually don't have any definitive "rules" on when I abandon a book (although I usually try to give a book approximately 50 pages). For those of you who are also short story readers, when do you decide if a particular collection isn't working for you? Or does it all depend on the book?

On this holiday weekend (in the U.S., at least) that celebrates workers, I hope whatever book you're reading is working for you and not striking out at bat.

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Trisha said...

I meant to read The Things They Carried with Kim as well, but time just got away from it. Sneaky, slippery little bugger it is. I'm not sure how to answer about short stories as I don't often read them, but nine sounds like more than enough to me.

readerbuzz said...

The Things They Carried...whew! what a book. It was so difficult to read as it was so painful, but I also thought it was one of the best books, the truest books, I've ever read.

I thought I was a follower here, but I was not...until now!

My Sunday Salon is here:

Hope you will drop by!

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

So glad you read The Things They Carried, even if it wasn't in time for the read-a-long. It's good to hear that you liked it! I do think everyone should read it at least once.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I think you gave that short fiction collection a fair shot - you read more than 20% of it!

THE THINGS THEY CARRIED has been on my list, too. I hope to get to it before the end of the year.

And, yes, those minor league ball games are FUN!