This installment: an amazing, brilliant book on cd with a sci fi theme (alternate realities) but so much more, my take on a very popular novel, and an entertaining story based in Seattle..
1Q84 by Haruki Murikami
Another book I read, then listened to. It's almost 1000 pages and had lots of holds on it, so I raced through it and was sorry when I had to leave that weird, compelling world. This time I could sink into the peculiar happenings as they unfolded on my way to work and back and when the final CD ended I again felt abandoned. Three narrators: the cool young woman assassin with her clipped t's, the sturdy young writer with his warm, strong voice, and the sneaky, snaky, misshapen guy pursuing them. It's a crazy story of alternate realities and preordained connections and cults with malevolent "little people.” Sometimes two moons appear in the sky. I can't even try to summarize the plot complexities and twists, but just encourage you to enter this world as a dreamscape and go along for the very entertaining ride. True, much of the material repeats as the narrators give their versions of the same events, but I welcomed each round. True confession: I didn't realize the title refers to a year (variation on 1984) until I heard it. I'd read it as IQ.)
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Yes, it's been at the top of the charts for months, but I finally got ahold of a copy and now I see why. A gripping yet slippery tale of identities that keeps surprising the reader. Nick is charming and handsome. Amy is rich, beautiful and special. Both are writers who start out in NYC with a charmed life which falls apart when the economy scuttles their jobs and Nick's parents face health problems back in Missouri. So it's affordable and functional to move back home, but exile for Amy. Nick and his twin sister Go buy a bar with what's left of Amy's dwindling funds. Amy disappears. Evidence mounts against Nick though he professes innocence and we believe him. Turns out there are dark corners and secrets galore, with a fascinating denouement. In some ways a morality play about what happens when things initially come too easily and how the media can feed and tweak "reality."
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Bee (aka Balakrishna), 14, lives with her mom, Bernadette, who's a glamorous, reclusive, non-practicing architect, and her dad, Elgie, high up at Microsoft, in an old ruin of a house in Seattle. Bee's a good student at the progressive Galer St. School but there are considerable tensions. Bernadette's agoraphobia and her disdain for the milieu don't help. They plan a trip to Antarctica and in a series of madcap misadventures, Bernadette ends up on board and then is utterly, mysteriously gone. Later Bee and Elgie track her down, with subsequent revelations and positive changes for all. Seattle is ripe for satire and Semple has a great time skewering its earthy pretensions.
Back next Monday.