Wednesday, June 06, 2007

May Book Report

1. The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town by John Grisham. The disheartening story of Ron Williamson, a man wrongfully convicted of murder, who spent years on death row before being vindicated by DNA evidence. Everything about this story is depressing: the behavior of the police and prosecutors, the fact that the real killer went free for so long, the suffering and death of the victim, Williamson's narcissism, alcoholism and untreated mental illness, and so on. I'm not a big fan of Grisham. This book tells a compelling story but isn't exceptionally written and could have used a couple more edits. In particular, Grisham included a lot of information about a different crime and different defendants wrongfully accused, and this was confusing and extraneous.

2. Sala's Gift: My Mother's Holocaust Story by Ann Kerschner, is the author's investigation into her mother's experiences in a forced-labor camp run by the Nazis. Kerschner didn't know much about her mother's experiences until shortly before her mother had surgery and turned over a box of memoribilia to Kerschner. Kerschner found over 300 precious letters that her mother had sent and received during the war, carefully hidden from her captors (discovery of such keepsakes could have been a death sentence) and saved through the years. Moving.

3. Faceless Killers by Henning Mankel, a mystery featuring a Swedish cop named Kurt Wallender. It always amazes me when a book that has been translated into English retains so much of its power. If you like Ian Rankin, you might want to give this one a try.

4. While perusing the Scandinavian mystery genre, I happened upon Karin Fossum, and read Don't Look Back, part of a series featuring Inspector Sejer. Also a good mystery, similar in style and tone to Faceless Killers. Mysteries are my escapist reading.

Feel free to post in the comments books you highly recommend. I'm always looking for good stuff to read.

13 comments:

Lee said...

I just finished Bel Canto by Anne Patchett. It was fabulous; not your usual Terrorists Take Hostages In-Random South American Country story. It was more of a meditation on love, relationships and beauty. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Carol said...

Long Way Gone, memoirs of a boy soldier and Disgrace by JM Coetzee. The latter is a bit weird. And have you read Middlesex yet? Great book and is evidently on Oprah's list now. For the record, I read it 3 yrs ago.

Tina said...

The Welsh Girl, by Peter Ho Davies. It is so amazing. And it sort of fits with your book report - it's about a German POW and a (surprise) Welsh girl during WWII, and deals very insightfully with issues of identity.

mindy said...

Right now I'm totally into comedic escapism. I'm plowing through the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovitch and loving them- there are great laugh out loud bits. I picked up Middlesex after Joe mentioned it- it sounds wonderful, but haven't started it, yet. I also read Crazy in Alabama after he recommended it and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sherry W said...

During the summers I try to read an older (or 'classic') book I have somehow missed. I'm almost done with Memoirs of a Geshia, holy cow, I can't put it down!

karen said...

If mysteries are your escapist reading, I would like to recommend the Jonathan Argyll series by Iain Pears. Jonathan is an English art expert/dealer living in Italy with his girfriend Flavia something or other who is an Italian art cop. Excellent escape.

Love your blog.

Kathy Merrick said...

Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen series. They're about a Venetian cop and often feature intense examinations of particular spots in Italy and particular Italian foibles.
Plus Dibdin writes well.

the hanged man said...

I'm very bad at recommending books, but I recently enjoyed The Baron In The Trees by Italo Calvino.

Michelene said...

The first book I read every summer(as soon as school lets out--hooray!) is Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. I've done this since I was 10 years old. I don't like the sequel Farewell Summer nearly as much.

Rabbitch said...

I quite of liked the Grisham book, but then I think he's sort of humpy.

Why yes, I ~have~ been sniffing a lot of dye fumes lately, why do you ask?

Carol said...

Humpy? As in, you'd like to hump him? Or as in, camel?

Kathy Merrick said...

Yeah, Caro, you know, it's like "spendy" because you have to spend alot.

Rachel said...

I really enjoy Carol Oconnell's Kathleen Mallory novels. I found her first book after reading the story of how she managed to publish it and since then I am a follower.

Another one that come to my mind is the great PD James Adam Dalgliesh but I think you wrote about those? not sure.