Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Sunday Salon

In a bout of frustration, I ranted to The Husband on Friday night how tired I was of nothing working. Everything seems to be an exercise in futility lately. Doesn't matter if its my goddamn job search, or his taste buds post-radiation (he can't taste anything), or my inability to download a book from the library onto Betty's NOOK, nothing works.

And then, as if on cue, my laptop sizzled and a steady stream of smoke erupted from the side.

I swear. Smoke. FROM. THE. LAPTOP.

"The motherboard might be fried," said the Geek Squad technician.

I kind of know how it feels.

The thing about the laptop is that I was warned about this day almost exactly a year ago, the last time we visited the Geek Squad. It was starting to slow down. The signs were there, but I didn't really notice them.

Until Friday, when I noticed smoke pouring out from the side of my computer.

The whole thing about the slow decline of the laptop leads into a nice little segue into my choice of books this week, The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. I read this in practically one sitting. I'm not usually one for dystopian novels, but this one felt different to me - maybe because it seemed so real.
Julia is a typical 11 year old living in a suburban California town with her parents. She goes to middle school, has a best friend named Hanna, and has a crush on a guy named Seth. All normal stuff. Until, one Saturday in October, life becomes anything but normal when they (and everyone else) learn that the earth's rotation has been slowing down. Soon, things change dramatically as everything is affected by the days and nights becoming longer. It's a fitting backdrop for the very real changes happening in Julia's life - to her relationship with her parents, her friends, and even Seth.
This has a young adult designation but is absolutely one of those YA books that is more than appropriate for grown-ups. I loved this because, again, it seemed so real. You could absolutely see this happening.
This week I also read - and finished - Tenth of December, the newest collection of short stories by George Saunders. I'd only read one short story of Saunders' before this, and that was the story "Home," which is included in this collection. (I may have read it in The New Yorker.) This is getting a lot of buzz and with good reason. The writing is phenomenal, the characters are flawed, the humor is dark ... I loved it. I'm a big fan of short stories, but it's rare that I like every story in a collection. Tenth of December is the exception. Each story in here is excellent.
This is a contender for one of my favorite books of 2013. (So is The Age of Miracles.) I was fortunate to get an ARC of Tenth of December from NetGalley. I haven't been very good at keeping up with my NetGalley reviews, but damn - I am so glad I read this.
One positive thing that's going to work for me this week without a laptop - I'll likely get in more reading time than usual this week. No slowdown in the reading here!

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Bryan said...

I work at a library. If you're still having problems getting e-books on to the Nook, I might could help. :) I've heard about this George Saunders collection and glad to see finally a review of it.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

So sorry to hear about your week... and the laptop! That sucks! Hope things turn around soon and yay to the books... that dystopian one sounds kind of interesting.

Melissa Sarno said...

Oooh, I really want to read that George Saunders book after reading his short story 'The Semplica-Girl Diaries' in the New Yorker. It totally blew my mind. The Age of Miracles felt SO eerily real to me. So real, I was having a conversation with my husband and he mentioned something about severe weather and I actually said out loud, 'well the birds and the whales are dying, Tyler' before I realized that was the book not real life. Was this book marketed as young adult for you? It was in my bookstore as adult fiction.