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For a while there I was reading The Painted Bird, which is a WWII novel of extreme (make that really extremely extreme) violence and horror about a little dark-haired boy trying to survive in terrifyingly backward, ostensibly Polish villages. Nightmares came, and dark horrid hate of society, fear of other people, etc etc. It averages a rape, murder, or severe beating about every four pages. Several folks noted that I seemed 'kinda blue' and I figured I'd pursue something funner.

No time to hit up the Walnut West for Book the Twelfth, which, though Lemony Snicket will beg and plead that it's unpleasant, probably won't be at all.

Well, serendipity ho! I saw the fascinating and well-done Children of Men last week. It's damn good, and right up my dystopia-lovin' alley. Come to think of it, the film has a certain WWII aesthetic, especially in the final ghetto scenes. Highly recommended, if you liked Blade Runner or A.I. or, heck, The Nativity Story. Anyhow. Didn't know it was based on a P.D. James novel, one of those known-to-be-crackerjack writers whose work I've just never gotten around to (cf. Toni Morrison, John Updike).

Anyhow I was eating (underrated, scrumptious) brunch at Kaffa Crossing with the honey, enjoying a fantastic latte. note: I have decided that in 2007 I will drink more coffee and more beer, because they are both so darned satisfying! On their little sharing-bookshelf, with cover out, stood The Children of Men, book in question. I read a couple pages and borrowed, with owner permission.

The point, I guess, is that I'm pretty easy to please. I will happily read about an apocalyptic future eerily resembling our own present, but not about a horrifying past that actually happened. (n.b. Kosinski's novel is definitely fictional and has been criticized repeatedly for grossly misrepresenting the Polish Catholic peasants who sheltered him safely, sans grisly beatings.) Can anyone suggest a novel of beauty and pleasure and happiness? I could deal with a sad ending, like maybe The Time Traveler's Wife. (Also highly recommended...hey, they're going to make a movie?!) Maybe it's time to make a long series of dates with Susannah Clarke.


Anonymous said...

Have you seen "Freedom Writers"? Bring a hankie or two and GO!!!!

ester said...

off the top of my head:

1) Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Rushdie

2) Garlic & Sapphires, Reichl - and the other Reichl books too

3) Bel Canto, Patchett - one of the more perfect novels I've ever read. maybe it's not "happy" exactly but it's very very satisfying.

Rebecca said...

ugh, plucky teacher movies. can't stomach them since Sister Act 2 (because that one was the best!) though I was oddly drawn to the Antonio Banderas ballroom dance one. Es, I sort of disliked Haroun, though I was too old for it. (Hated the effing Alchemist.) will check the freelibe for those others.

ester said...

wait wait wait. Haroun cannot stand in the company of The Alchemist. i fuckin hate The Alchemist. i guess they're both "boys on journeys" books, but one has a clever sense of humor and one is a leaden block of sententiousness.

Ross said...

nobody's too old for haroun

Anonymous said...

"Haroun" is dear to my heart, if only because it was a gift from an Indian woman for whom I did volunteer work.

I recommend "The Life of a Good-for-Nothing" by Joseph von Eichendorff. Probably you'd have to order it, 'cause it's hard to find in the English translation.

Have you read Hermann Hesse's "Siddhartha"? That's easy to find in English translation, and you must like the whole Indian/Buddhist flavor.

Rebecca said...

i did read Siddhartha and found that i prefer to just read Buddhist "nonfiction" writers. (but jeez, what the hell does that word mean in the context of philosophy/cosmology??) just finished Song of Solomon, which was perfect. perfect.

Diana said...

if you liked song of solomon, try zora neale hurston their eyes were watching god. or my new favourite writer, david mitchell. i started with cloud atlas.

Rebecca said...

o diana,

you are very right. i did like the zora. and i LOVE david mitchell. i met him last spring and got my copy of Black Swan Green autographed. amazing writer.

by the way, do i know you?

Diana said...

don't think so - i came across your page when looking into moving to sri lanka, where i am now. a crazy sad time to be here, but staying for at least another year.

you met david mitchell??