The first book I picked up after The Glass Castle was Tom Robbins's Jitterbug Perfume. I read about 120 pages of that one and then I reached a point where - true story - the very sight of the book filled me with such anger and ill wishes for the world that I couldn't stand to have it in my house anymore and I joyfully threw it back into the Return Book bunker at the Logan Square Library. Although I didn't get to add a book to my 2010-2011 book list, I did get to add a new Least Favorite Author to my Forever And Ever list, so it wasn't a total loss. I know a lot of people love this book, and love Tom Robbins. I am not one of them. I welcome discussion on this topic.
Next I read about 3/4 of the book Fever 1792 by Laurie Halse Anderson. I would recommend that one to anyone who likes historical fiction and/or young adult fiction (DOUBLE BONUS for fellow lovers of historical young adult fiction). It takes place during this huge fever epidemic in, you guessed it, 1792 in Philadelphia - an event that I hadn't known anything about prior to picking up this book. It was highly interesting and enjoyable. Then one of my friends took suddenly ill with the flu and passed away, and I haven't been able to revisit this book, whose plot contains nothing but people suddenly taking ill and passing away. I'd still recommend it for any of you interested parties out there, though. Laurie Halse Anderson is a champion young adult historical fiction writer - the kind that makes me want to take up being a young adult historical fiction writer myself.
Book number three I reached for was Alias Grace by my ladylove Margaret Atwood, who I can count on to write a stunning yarn every single time. And I'll be goddamned if she didn't blow me away again.
Alias Grace is based on the story of Grace Marks, a Canadian Lizzie Borden of sorts who became a media sensation in the mid 1800s after she and another hired hand murdered their employers. Atwood's retelling is extensively researched - the time period, the people involved, the facts about the case itself - as much as this particular event can be. There are huge gaps in the real information where Atwood has "felt free to invent," as she says in the Author's Afterward. So is it historical fiction? Fictional history? BRILLIANT?!? Yes.
I was talking to my sister about this book, and I heard myself say the sentence "If I could only read one author for the rest of my life, I would pick Margaret Atwood." And as I heard myself say it, I realized it was true. This woman is a master, and Alias Grace encompasses so much of what I love about her writing.
I'm on a kick for sure now. Just got The Penelopiad at the library, which Sanchez has been hyping up for months now. I'm 30 pages in and already in love. Get ready.