There are weekends during which you accomplish a great deal and there are those that are a total loss. Occasionally, some fall in between on the spectrum, but I'd go way west on this weekend. Not much of anything accomplished. So, when I went outdoors to work on removing the monkey grass in my front garden and discovered that the fire ants have built a home right where I planned to stick my gloved hands, I was irritable. When I got a bit too close to them and they bit me (even though I gave them plenty of room, the little space hogs), my mood was foul. I had to take a nap to recover.
But, I've fed the fire ants some American Cheese-flavored grits (presumably, the ants will eat them and explode -- hoping that's not what happens to humans because I just ate some of the Three Cheese variety) and now my mood has improved. I can now share my weekend reading with you.
On Saturday, I finished reading The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank by Ellen Feldman.
6-word synopsis: What if Anne's friend Peter survived?
Peter, of course, refers to the Peter whose family shared hiding space with Anne Frank's family in their hidden Annex for two years, during WWII. The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank is a novel concerning what might have happened to Peter van Pels (referred to as Peter van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank) had he survived the concentration camp where his life ended. After time in a Displaced Persons camp and a new beginning in the United States, where he does not admit to being a Jew, the fictional Peter settles into a mildly neurotic and fairly prosperous life. But, Peter is haunted by his past, a past he prefers to keep buried even from his wife and children. When The Diary of Anne Frank is published and then turned into a play and, later, a film, his tenuous facade begins to crack.
This book really caught me off-guard. I found it was much more compelling, emotional and believable than I'd dreamed possible. I'll read just about anything, but I tend to give a wide berth to books that place a reader firmly in the head of a real person. My thought process is something to the effect of, "How can one possibly presume to guess at the thoughts of another human being -- one who truly lived and breathed and was not, in fact, fictional?" That bugs me.
But for some reason this particular story appealed to me. I think Susan's review might have been one of the reviews that sparked my interest. And, Tammy mentioned it as a favorite read in 2005 (her review is currently the third featured review at Amazon). It's a pretty depressing story, but I found it plausible, particularly concerning the emotional upheaval Peter might have experienced when the horror of his past came back to haunt him. Definitely recommended, but be prepared for an onslaught of emotion. The ending, I should add, is pretty upbeat.
In other reading, I'm about halfway through Susan Grant's latest novel, Moonstruck. Moonstruck is the story of Admiral Brit Bandar, a woman who has made it her mission to fight the Drakken Horde and dedicated years of her life trying not only trying to wipe out as many of the Horde as possible, but also to capturing rogue warleader and pirate Finn Rorkken. When the Coalition and the Horde draft a peace accord and become part of the new Triad, Bandar and Rorkken are thrown together, where they must share command of a new space ship and fight their unexpected attraction to each other. Or, not. It's a romance, after all.
Moonstruck is much darker than Your Planet or Mine?, a book that made my list of favorites in 2006. See my review of Your Planet or Mine?, here. I'm enjoying it, particularly for the change of scenery. I do prefer romantic comedy to a darker tale, but I also happen to really like Susan Grant's writing. More on Moonstruck, when I finish the book.
On Sunday, I planned to read a few short stories but only managed to squeeze in one: "Star Light, Star Bright" from Virtual Unrealities by Alfred Bester. How can you not love a story that begins like this:
The man in the car was thirty-eight years old. He was tall, slender, and not strong. His cropped hair was prematurely gray. He was afflicted with an education and a sense of humor. He was inspired by a purpose. He was armed with a phone book. He was doomed.
Well, that's a grabber, isn't it? I'm afraid anything at all that I say about this story might give too much away because it unfolds in just the right way. But, I can tell you that the 38-year-old man is in search of something small but important and that his search does, indeed, lead to his doom. Maybe that's what makes it so suspenseful, just knowing that something bad is coming but not exactly how or when or why it will happen. In fact, the story bears some resemblance to Richard Matheson's horror stories -- such as "The Incredible Shrinking Man"-- which are straightforward and suspenseful but seldom in any way gruesome or repellent. It's the fact that you know things are never going to improve that gives them the classification "horror".
So, now, I've just proven that the new little blurb I wrote for my profile is inaccurate. Sometimes, I actually do read horror -- just not the gory stuff that induces nightmares. And I hate true crime. Shiver.
Off to fetch the kiddo. Happy Monday!
Bookfool, on a Positive Mood Swing