Monday, August 02, 2004

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me... Odious is sitting on the bed, all dressed up to go out for my birthday dinner, while I lounge at the computer in shorts and t-shirt. It's too hot to get fancy yet! Anyway, I wanted to post briefly, since I've read several good books in the past week or so but haven't had time to write anything about them.

After a long time of believing Wallace Stegner to be a writer of westerns (don't ask me why), I finally picked up Crossing to Safety a year or so ago and absolutely loved it right off. I had Angle of Repose sitting on my bookshelf for quite some time before an acquaintance urged me to read it, but I didn't get into it as immediately as I did the other. That's partly because I was reading it in little bits and never got a good bite to savor, but also it started out a little slow. After a while, though, I became thoroughly engrossed, and greatly enjoyed the story. It's about Lyman Ward, a disabled 60-year-old man in 1970 who's writing a novel about his grandparents. His grandfather was a mining engineer and his grandmother an elegant society girl, so their marriage was quite a struggle in the rough West of the 1800's, detailed in a vast series of letters and other documents to be sorted through. The book switches back and forth between Lyman's life and excerpts from the novel, which is more or less historically accurate and a study of the marriage. I found it really interesting, though it was hard not to be irritated with the marital mistakes so clear from my omniscient view as a reader. Oliver and Susan Ward were astoundingly different people, and had a very difficult time relating to each other; yet even in its tragedy it's a beautiful story. However, I was most disappointed by the end of the book. I won't give anything away, since other than that it was a terrific novel, one to really sink your teeth into, but I hate cop-out endings like that.

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