Monday, January 24, 2011

#68 Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas

Originally a radio play, the book tells of a day in the life of a Welsh fishing vilage so small, everyone can guess the father of each illegitimate child. Willy Nilly the postman announces the contents of each inhabitant’s mail to everyone in town. Mrs. Ormore-Pritchard, twice-widowed, gets into bed with each of her dead husbands every night. Mr. Pugh orders a book to learn the best way to poison his wife. Everyone has a secret, a vice, in this town of gossips, drunkards, philanderers, nosey-parkers and lovers. The town on the fishboat-bobbing sea is picturesque and quaint, but life remains difficult and lonely in this elegiac and lyrical work.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

#67 Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

He once had a girl,

or should I say,

he once had two

Her knew one awhile

She was the yen

Of his best friend

But when his best friend commits shocking and sad suicide

The boy and the girl take to walking around side by side

She must go away

he’s left alone, in love with her

He meets someone new

They have lots of fun

Could she be the one?

He’s thinking back to the 60’s and life in Tokyo

He also recalls a sanitarium in Kyoto

Naoko’s one girl

Midori’s the other

And he is Turo

Which love will survive?

He’s so confused

Whom will he choose?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#66 Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

“We are not dogs!” This abrupt statement is what sends Eleuterio Reyes back to Mexico to fulfill his obligations as a father. It’s also what makes later generations of the Reyes family possible. Celaya Reyes, born years later in America, tells stories of her family’s complicated past, stories that contain more twists than a telenovela. Though her book is a novel, Cisneros includes many historical facts, such as a description of the Ten Tragic Days, which occurred during the Mexican revolution. It is this mix of fiction and reality that shows that the Reyeses are indeed, not dogs, but a proud family with a heritage as rich and sweet as caramelo.

#65 Disappearing Moon Cafe by Sky Lee

Torrid passions, secrets and lies envelop the Wong family in this surprising and alluring novel. Kae Ying Woo, the narrator of this tale, delves into her family's tangled past and discovers the truth behind her aunt Suzanne’s death: suicide over a star-crossed love. Hidden family ties have led to accidental incest, and Kae finds out that many relatives throughout her family tree have tasted the bitter fruit of forbidden love. Kae’s discoveries help her find the will to rekindle a past romance of her own. The loves in this book are as fleeting as the disappearing moon of the title, yet they all leave a permanent longing in each lover's heart.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

#64 Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum

That little girl from Kansas just can’t seem to stay put. In this third installment in the Land of Oz series, Dorothy gets herself thrown off a ship during a raging storm and washes up on the shores of the fairy land of Ev. The Land of Ev lies just opposite the Land of Oz, across a deadly desert, and Dorothy must, of course, find her way home. But first, Dorothy must have a few good old-fashioned adventures, which include rescuing the royal family of Ev and defeating the Nome King. Good thing she has her old friends from Oz and a few new companions to help her along the way.

#63 The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

The master, a writer who becomes mentally ill when his novel about Pontius Pilate is met with public derision, and Margarita, the beautiful woman who falls in love with him, are but a small part of this classic novel. Bulgakov’s story cross-cuts back and forth between Satan and his retinue unleashing hellish chaos on 1930s Moscow, and Pontius Pilate and Yeshua (Jesus) Ha-Nazori (of Nazareth), fatefully interacting in Biblical Jerusalem.

The sacred and profane, the tragic and comic, are all present in this teeming montage. Behemoth, a big, black cat who talks, walks upright and eats with a fork, is absurdly amusing. Bulgakov’s uncannily detailed recounting of Jesus’s crucifixion? Not so much.