Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Leafing Through ...

Rickle's Letters by Don Rickles Simon & Schuster $35 ('way overpriced) 211 pages (half of them blank. I read this in about half an hour.) About what one would expect from Mr. Rickles: "Dear Arnold (Schwarzeneger) Lose the cigar. It's hard enough to understand you without it."

Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan Little Brown & Co. $23.99 358 pages
Akpan was born in southern Nigeria, was ordained a Jesuit priest in 2003 and received his MFA in creative writing in 2006 (Univ. of Michigan.)

If you want to read scarier fiction than anything Stephen King ever dreamed up, I recommend this book of five short stories. The first one - "An Ex-mas Feast" features a destitute family of six children -- girls 12 and 10, a boy 8, twins age 2 and a baby. The mother gives the kids New Suntan shoe glue to sniff -- sniffing glue discourages hunger -- while berating the father, "You didn't work two days last month!" The 12-year old is a street whore, albeit a smart one -- "It's better to starve to death than go out with any man without a condom." The 8 year old takes the baby out begging. Even their dog is pregnant! But the matter-of-fact attitude of the characters shocked me.

We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin Mee Weinstein Books $24.95 261 pages Mee, formerly a columnist for the UK's Guardian Weekend, is degreed in psychology and has spent the past 10 years studying animal behaviors.

His story begins in the South of France where he and his wife have bought land and a pair of barns, planning to refurbish them. His sister sends him the real estate ad for the "Dartmoor Zoologial Park" and after many troubles (painstakingly and tediously spelled out) he and his mother buy the place and she, he, his wife, their two kids and his brother move in -- 12 bedroom house.

At first I thought he was amusing enough - typical English self-deprecation - but by page 180, he begins to seem a bit self-centered, a bit "put upon, O God" if you will. Still, it is too bad his wife died of brain cancer with such young children.

Marrying Anita by Anita Jain Bloomsbury Books $24.99 307 pages She was born in Northern California of Indian immigrant parents, graduated from Harvard and worked as a journalist in Mexico City, London, Singapore.

While working in New York, she became frustrated at the "Sex & the Single Woman" life style. Deciding to listen to her parents -- who have been blissfully married for some 40 years after an arranged marriage -- she moves to New Delhi in search of a husband. After all, "Was looking for a husband in a bar any more barbaric than traditional arranged marriages?"

No comments: