Hello! I work at the Fairfax Library, in part because it's the Temple of Books and I'm a devout worshipper. I read constantly and have broad if dark tastes, as you'll soon discover. Every morning I write in my journal about the books I've read recently so I can keep track of them and recommend them to friends and patrons. And now with you too. I also share my love of books on KWMR--alternative Tuesday mornings at 10; you can hear me live on KWMR. org. So here we go...
Innocent Spouse by Carol Ross Joynt. I read this mostly because I love to witness others' troubles. Her husband, the debonair owner of the fabled DC watering hole Nathans, drops dead and she discovers they've been living a lie: years of tax evasions and crooked bookkeeping. She works for Larry King Live and has a young son. What a mess, with the IRS threatening and Nathans about to fold. With the help of lawyers and a shrink, she manages--almost--to get out from under but makes a lot of missteps along the way. I didn't like her from the get-go: name-dropping Republican socialite, etc.--but read it for schadenfreude (a guilty pleasure). Most interesting stuff: trying to get Nathans viable again. But fate had some spectacular tricks up its sleeve: exploding manhole covers along the street and an enormous public works project that scuttled the establishment after 10 years.
Leche by R. Zamora Linmark. What I've read from the Philippines--not much--seems to have a similar quality, a lot like Manila itself: chaotic, smelly, over the top. Even the title is a triple threat: the word can mean milk, excrement, or a the name of a fabled pleasure palace in the city where anything and everything goes. Vicente, also known as Vince, has returned after 12 years in Honolulu to put some ghosts to rest. He's gay, on the edges of the film industry world, both a native son and an outsider. On the customs line, for instance, he can't understand why he's shunted into the foreigners' queue. (It's the passport, stupid, not the perceived identity.) Vince in Night Town, as it were: confused, overheated, horny, amused--the total mixed bag of such a challenging environment. Eventually he gets back to his home town and his grandfather's grave.. The book ends on a melancholy, reflective note after all that crazy action. There are funny, periodic tips for tourists, i.e. the Philippines has 4 seasons: hot, wet, melting, flooding. Also postcards to his family, which we see both front and back. They're very atmospheric. A slew of history as well, along with political and film industry gossip, often interwoven. What a surrealistic country! I didn't always track the lurching plot lines but loved the exhilarating ride.
I'll be back in a couple of weeks with new reviews.