Monday, January 21, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I'm still reading Stuart Neville's crime thriller Ratlines, set in 1960s Ireland. And I seem to have put aside Jacob's Folly, at least for the time being. I'll get back to it for sure. I finished In a Strange Room (and reviewed it) and have started reading Magnificence, by Lydia Millet.

Magnificence is a so-far-wonderful novel about a woman named Susan, whose husband has died suddenly. More or less simultaneously, she has inherited a house of wonders or a house of horrors, depending on your point of view- a mansion fitted out in taxidermy. Her eccentric loner uncle has left her the house, where she roams, daydreams, decorates, and figures out what comes next. But this is a novel unlike most, a strange and moody journey through a strange woman's mind at a crucial turn in her life.

I've also been reading The Eyes of Venice, by Alessandro Barbero, an adventure tale about an Italian named Michele who leaves his wife for a life at sea. But he doesn't exactly leave her on purpose, and life at sea isn't really what he'd had in mind for himself. At the same time, his wife Bianca must cope with her own life, taking its own unpredictable turns. The story is set just before 1600 and is very much a sea story, driven by setting both geographic and historical. The most interesting parts of the book are those describing the collision of the various cultures of the Mediterranean- Christian, Muslim and Jewish. Barbero has taken a fascinating snapshot of a complex and important cultural moment.

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