Wednesday, August 14, 2013


"Good things come in threes," Lina Manona Sadler Jones, my grandmother, used to say.

...Well, actually what she used to say was "deaths come in threes..." Not quite so optimistic.

But there is the Trinity, after all, to hint that threes are a good thing.

So, in the past month, I've seen 3 of the funniest movies I've ever seen and read three of the best novels I've ever read.

I don't do reviews here, but I do want to share my bounty with you.

Movies: The Heat (course, I've always loved Sandra Bullock); Red 2 (which has a cast you could only dream of and is the only 'comic book' movie that was really like a comic book) and RIPD (panned by most critics and already pretty much out of theatres but I've always loved Jeff Bridges and I thought it was hilarious, with  some hysterical special effects). An unusual 'buddy' movie, a strange 'action' movie and an unconventional 'sci-fi' movie. I'd see any of them a couple of more times.

Books: three times in a month I've had to rearrange my Top 10 novels of all time.

The Hunger Angel by German writer, Herta Muller (the u needs one of those two dot diacritical marks over it that my keyboard cannot make). It is a troubling read, about a ethnic German living in Romania who is sent to a forced labor camp after WW II. While I was reading it, I heard an interview with a historian who has written a book about all the removals and displacements that took place in Europe after the second World War, which made the story even more moving and troubling. A hard read but well worth it (I think I read at least two murder mysteries, my genre of choice, while slogging through The Hunger Angel, but the slog was well worth it.

The Uninvited by Liz Jenson, a British novelist. It is also disturbing but compelling. It is a distopian novel that you never saw coming. The most troubling total eclipse of  'life as we know it' I've ever read. Beautifully written. The narrator has Asbergerer's Syndrome and besides being a fascinating 'teller of the tale' helped me finally have some rational understanding of that disorder. Don't read this to you young children.

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson, who is one of my favorite mystery writers (Case Histories--now a made-for-TV movie and Left Early, Took my Dog, which I just read again after Life after Life reminded me how good she is. LaL, if I might abbreviate (and why not?) is, if I can spell it, one of the tour de forces of modern literature. I wouldn't dare spoil it for you by telling you anything about what it is about. But it is about something I've never (and I bet you've never) imagined. But once the author makes you imagine it, you can't stop imagining it. The main character, Ursala, "little bear", her father calls her, is the recipient of 'life' after 'life'. 'Nough said.

Atkinson writes the best dialog (and inner dialog) I've ever read. Anywhere. And this story is haunting and lovely and in ways I can't (and couldn't!) explain, so life affirming and hopeful and breathtakingly wondrous that this novel is now up there edging even Moby Dick and The Tale of Two Cities at the top, the very top, of novels I've read.

I'll read it again in a month or so--if I can get on the 'hold list' at the Cheshire Library.

All three are wondrous and making havoc in my Top Ten Of All Time--but Life after Life is something beyond explaining....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.