Monday, November 10, 2003

I admit the book cover image is a little bit, well...big. I'm still learning about resizing images. It's terrific that Houghton Mifflin has a book cover download option on some of its titles' webpages. I don't see why more publishers don't do it. How can more advertising be bad from their point of view?

Secret Father is a thought-provoking read from start to finish. I would not advise reading this before bed if you are the type who finds your head nodding from time to time because this novel requires (and rewards) concentration. Carroll weaves a heady psychological layer of suspense all through the book's spy-thriller elements, making it exhilarating for readers who prefer an adventure with subtle characterization and depth. He also manages to dispense a modicum of philosophical gut-wrenching in the midst of the drama that unfolds in East Berlin.

When the banker father is stumbling his way through East Germany to rescue his son, I was so reminded of the protagonist in Kafka's The Trial, who is suddenly and mysteriously overwhelmed by an incomprehensible authority and world order. Carroll reveals what's underneath the skin of both the father and the son, portraying the relationship in all its angst beautifully. A novel well worth the trouble; i.e. it is not a light, frothy read by any means.

So I'm on to my next book. I'm guardedly reading the first few chapters of Gods of Noonday: A White Girl's African Life by Elaine Orr, a memoir about her childhood in Nigeria in the 1950s and 60s. (This title was one of the Booksense 76 Picks for September and October.) I named Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller about her childhood in Rhodesia, Zambia, and Malawi the best book of 2001 (back when it was in hardcover and no one knew about it) and was hoping for something similar. But while I was at the gym today, I started Gods of Noonday and became a little nervous that Orr is painting an idyllic world of colonial Nigeria and that's all she's going to present. I will read on through the syrupy, poetic sweetness and hope for a blast of reality. Stay tuned.


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