Monday, December 28, 2009

What I'm Reading Monday -- Dec. 28

In response to J Kaye's What I'm Reading Monday challenge:

Finished reading: The Good Life

Jay McInerney's entrance into 9/11 fiction has some good parts and some grating parts. The novel stands as something of a sequel to his "Brightness Falls," which I read way back in the 1990s, in that it has two characters in common -- Russell and Corrine, yuppies transformed into parents through the donation of eggs by Corrine's sister, the party girl Hilary. McInerney remains fascinated by beautiful, good-looking people, particularly Luke, a banker who's dropped out of the rat race, and Sasha, his gorgeous, philandering wife. Then 9/11 happens, all hell breaks loose, and Luke and Corrine are thrown together at a lunch wagon for rescue and recovery workers. None of the characters seem to live much past their resumes -- McInerney makes a game try with Luke, giving him an artistic and literary side -- but the novel only gets good when Luke is called home to Tennessee. The novel is a lot like Wendy Wasserstein's Elements of Style, both in strengths and weaknesses. I've been an on-again, off-again fan of his; I read Bright Lights, Big City and Ransom when they were hot, as well as Story of My Life and Brightness Falls (but not Last of the Savages, Model Behavior or his more recent short story and wine books). I guess i still am a fan; his latest collection got good reviews, and I'll read it down the line. 

"Agent to the Stars" by John Scalzi

This is a lightly likable first-contact novel, in which the hideous but friendly aliens contract with a Hollywood agent to manage their first appearance to humans. It's a very fast read, as compared with some of the other novels and short-story collections I read this year, and it was great to finish off on winter break. I particularly liked the main character, Tom Stein, an agent with a literary bent -- maybe too good to be true, but this is SF, after all. I'll read more books by John Scalzi. 
Challenge fulfilled: Winter challenge (read a book written in the first person)

Reading now:

Miss Wyoming by Doug Coupland

I like Coupland's stories because they tend to pick up on things in the zeitgeist even if they're not GREAT, IMPORTANT LITERATURE. This one is particularly light, telling the parallel tales of a movie producer and an actress who both tried to chuck it all for a completely different life. This novel is from 1999, pre-social media; it makes me want to read J-Pod in 2010.
Challenge: Winter challenge (read a book with Mister, Mrs. or Miss in the title)

For Christmas, I received a 4GB MP3 player; I just downloaded "How I Paid for College" for free on NetLibrary (through the Tuscaloosa Public Library), and I'll be listening to it on walks and in the car.


Nise' said...

I listen to books while I walk as well.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on completing the winter challenge...I need to get my post up, but haven't had the time.