Monday, June 18, 2007

Two Quick Reviews

While visiting family this weekend, my mother-in-law, STR, said she had finished reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne and had an interesting reading group discussion about it. I asked her if I could read it, and she said, "DEFINITELY! so we could talk about it." A couple hours later on Saturday, we had a good talk about it.

I don't want to give anything away because I hate ruining surprises, but here's the scoop. The narrator is an 9-year-old (I'm really into the kid narrators lately), and it's his story about seeing people from different perspectives and understanding we all have more in common--no matter how different we are--than we think.

The writing is not that sophisticated, but the message is very touching. I found some flaws with the logic of the main character (I just don't believe kids are that unobservant), but I like how the title has two meanings and I liked what a quick read it was. Don't get caught up in historical accuracy or translation/language issues. Bear in mind, it is a fable....
3 1/2 Hello Kittys.

Good Roots was a nostalgic reading experience. I related to the cities/townships I grew up in or have ties too. Some of the essays, though, lacked lyrical language and shied away from getting to the complexity of why place is so vital and important to us as writers, but, overall, it was an OK read. I especially like the following essays: Micheal Dirda's "Sweet Lorain," Ian Frzier's "Out of Ohio" (about Hudson and my fav store The Grey Colt was mentioned!), Susan Orlean's "Pool Buddy," and Scott Russell Sanders' "After the Flood" (which had probably the most beautiful language of the bunch). I think it would be interesting to see how an Ohio anthology like this one changes in 10 or 20 years. And I would like to see some younger writers featured in my proposed new one. The poetry for me good-but-nothing-to-to-write-home-about.

If you're really into Ohio and have Ohio pride, it's a good read. If you're reading it to see what the personal essay can do, pick up something else. 3 Hello Kittys.

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