Sunday, October 09, 2011

Sunday Reading

I don't know what the weather's like in the rest of the country, but in South Florida this weekend has been a washout, in the best possible way. Gloomy, dark, blustery and with high surf pounding over at the beach, it really feels like fall and like Halloween is around the corner. It's also been perfect for sitting inside and reading all day.

I haven't been reading as much and it's been forever since I recommended a book for you all. Baby Lawns naps only once a day now and I use that time for writing the memoir, whereas I used to read. Now I read in the middle of the night on my phone using the Kindle app because I've developed a hateful case of insomnia and wake every night between three and five am.

You all, you have got to read Charles Frazier's Nightwoods. I'm not kidding you. It's southern gothic, creepy, weird and so beautifully written and surprising that I've been raving about it to everyone I see.

Frazier wrote Cold Mountain, another favorite of mine, though I didn't so much care for the movie. I thought it was poorly cast. The book is a million times better and if you haven't read it, you'd love a Frazier double feature, though the books are vastly different. Their only similarity is the mountainous southern setting, but Cold Mountain is in North Carolina during the Civil War and Nightwoods takes place in Virginia in the 1960s.

Nightwoods is scary as hell, which is perfect for an October read. The suspense and the violence is superbly done. I'd say the book is very much a literary thriller and at the heart of the plot are twin children who appear to be autistic, though they aren't labeled as such in the novel because I suppose that diagnosis wasn't as common or well understood in the 60s as it is now. The twins fascinated me and I thought their odd behavior patterns and general lack of speech added an unusual and interesting dimension to the book and the mysteries of the story.

Frazier writes magnificently about nature. The way he describes the environments where these characters live makes me want to throw down my laptop and never write again because I know I could never describe a tree or a clearing in the woods with such stunning grace and scientific accuracy. I love nature and I love reading about it and I especially love reading about nature when Charles Frazier's doing the writing. It's almost like the natural world has its own character that is essential to the novel and while it's factually precise and intricately detailed, it's also strangely magical and other-wordly too.

I can't recommend this book enough and when I'm finished, waiting in the Kindle queue is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which got a crappy review in the New York Times last week, but which I'm reading anyway because the first couple of chapters really hooked me, especially the prologue. After finishing Lev Grossman's The Magician King, which kicked ass by the way, I'm craving another grown-up fantasy. I must need more magic in my life.


Anonymous said...

You might wnat to try "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell" if you're looking for a grown-up fantasy.

Dawn said...

Have you read the Game of Thrones series? Not my cup of tea (but I love the HBO series), but people lovelovelove those books.

Milesly Rose said...

I'm in the middle of The Night Circus right now and it is FANTASTIC.

Dawn - I'm not sure you're giving ASOIAF a proper shot. They're waaaay better than the show.

greyspasm said...

Just finished reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, thanks to you. A wonderful book that most likely would not have crossed my path had it not been for your recommendation.

Also thought Cold Mountain was awesome. Beautifully written. I'll have to check out his latest too. Thanks!

wagthedad said...

Thanks for the book recommendations. When I clicked on Frazier's book I happened to stumble over a book by Russel Banks, whom I thought was dead and anyway.

Can you write a post about how to find time to read when you're writing and working and raising 3 kids?

And how is your novel coming?

Anonymous said...

Love the Paisely Madison. There can be a whole blog entry written on the art of children's names, especially when chosen by Pageant moms in the South. -Kira

Sunny said...

I had read Cold Mountain before. You're right, as usual book way better than the movie. On your recommendation I just finished Nightwoods, loved it! It kept me occupied for two whole days.

Anonymous said...

I know you like memoirs, so I think you would appreciate, "Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?" by
Jeanette Winterson. She's an English writer who won the Whitbread Award for "Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit." Her childhood is quite dark but her writing is very powerful.

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