Monday, March 22, 2010

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.

Books completed this week:

28.Seek My Face*** by John Updike US 2002 (277 pages)

A fictionalized account of an interview with Jackson Pollack's widow (Lee Rasner, herein called Hope Chafetz), about her own lifetime of work, but so far spent talking about sex with her three husbands and others. There nothing about the Pollocks' lives I didn't already know from watching the recent film with Ed Harris. I can't imagine why Updike bothered. I was hoping to learn something about art while trying some of his fiction. I've purchased and read volumes of his essays and literary criticism (Hugging the Shore, Odd Jobs, Picked-Up Pieces) and loved them all. The man was clearly sex-mad, but he did know about art.  Can anyone recommend some fiction by Updike that I might enjoy? I Bookmooched a copy of Brazil but now I'm leery. If you've reviewed an Updike novel, leave me a link. I prefer reading blind (no reviews before reading a book) but I think I'll make an exception for this author.
*Since finishing this book I've learned that Updike was shortlisted for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award for this book in 2003. I laughed so hard I frightened my dog who was sleeping under the desk.

29.Chef***** by Jaspreet Singh Canada 2009 (242 pages)

Set in Kashmir, about an Sikh army chef who goes back after fourteen years to cater the wedding of his former commanding officer's daughter. There are unresolved issues between him amd his former boss. I learned a few thing about the India /Pakistan wars, and drooled over all the food descriptions of course. The writing is wonderful, the wars are heartbreaking and the mountains are beautiful. Chef is Singh's first novel after an award-nominated collection of connected short stories, Seventeen Tomatoes: Tales from Kashmir. I have reserved this book at my library. I loved Chef, I will read it again. Highly recommended.

Reason for reading: I saw it on a 2009 list of nominees for a literary awards. Since then:

Winner of the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction.
Short-listed for the 2009 Commonwealth Prize for Best Book in Canada and the Caribbean
Short-listed for the 2008 Quebec Writer's Federation Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction
Short-listed for the 2009 Canadian Author's Association Literary Award
Short-listed for the 2009 City of Calgary Prize
and as of March 17, 2010 Impac Dublin Literary Prize nominee for 2010

At the very least, ask your library to purchase it. We need to keep this man writing.

30.The Man Who Planted Trees***** by Jean Giono 1954 (54 pages)

A slim hardcover with woodcut photos about a man who planted trees every day of his life. A parable really of what one person without even mechanical resources can do to effect serious change in the world. It's as relevant as when he wrote it too. I loved it.

31.February***** by Lisa Moore 2009 GG Award Longlist (311 pages) Total:

About a woman who lost her husband in the Ocean Ranger disaster off Newfoundland in the 1980s. I enjoyed it immensely. Smooth writing with emotional depths that feel exactly right. Highly recommended. I enjoyed Alligator****, her first novel, also set in Newfoundland, but Moore is even better in February.

Book in hand:

Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti Sweden 1998

A humourous love story between two middle-aged Swedish loners that's just warming up. I'm hoping it has more depth than that. But Solar is coming home with my son from work in a few hours and I didn't want to start something longer.

Next up:

Solar by Ian McEwan

I've read and enjoyed Amsterdam****, Black Dogs****, Enduring Love****, Saturday***** (my personal favourite), Atonement****, and On Chesil Beach**** as they were each published. No point in stopping now.

The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon Canada 2009

It's about Aristotle taking in hand and trying to teach the boy who would become
Alexander the Great. Winner of the 2009 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, 2009 Governor General's Award of Canada Finalist, 2009 Giller Prize Finalist. That's the three big ones in Canada.


The Butterfly Chair by Marion Quednau Canada 1987

Awarded the 1987 Books in Canada Best First Novel Award.


Breaking Lorca by Giles Blunt Canada 2009

2009 Governor General's Award Longlist - My son (37) and I have read and loved every book he's written.

Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay  USA 1994  

Recommended by Dollycas who did a fascinating bio and review of Ansay's books for Roadtrip:Writer's of Wisconsin at Dollycas' Thoughts.

Followers, check out my audio giveaway of The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova and my new tabs. Hundreds of good reading suggestions on those pages. What are you reading that's got you excited?


  1. Sandra, you read all this in 1 week.. phew!
    I want Chef by Jaspreet Singh, The Man Who Planted Trees and February!!!

    I hope you have wonderful week ahead!
    My post is here

  2. I woke up to an interview on NPR with the author of Chef, Jaspreet Singh. The books sounds great - looks like you enjoyed it too!

  3. Love Ian McEwan - it's such a powerful writer. Hope you have a great week!

  4. I really want to read Chef! I've been interested in India/Pakistan ever since I read Burnt Shadows. I hope you have a great week in books!

  5. I really like Vinegar Hill - an Oprah classic pick!

    Here's mine:

  6. Wow, that's a lot of reading in one week. I've got a couple of those in my tbr pile.

  7. You have some fascinating titles here. Chef sounds fantastic!

  8. You've totally sold me on Chef...must get my hands on a copy of this one!!!!

  9. Chef looks really interesting. I might have to pick that one up. I am doing a South Asian Author Challenge so I could read it for that. I've heard some good things about Benny and Shrimp. My library has that one so I might give it a try. I hope you enjoy your books, especially Solar.

  10. I read Benny & Shrimp last year and it was a pleasant read. Nothing extraordinary but enjoyable at the time.

  11. February sounds good. I've missed visiting your blog.

  12. I absolutely loved Saturday as well. Maybe I should read more McEwan.

  13. I may have to break down and buy a copy of Chef and of The Golden Mean. My library is not purchasing Canadian books right now. Oh, and the new Giles Blunt, I have to find that as well!



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