Somehow I managed to read a bunch of books in the last month even though I was crazy busy. There were a few duds but several that I liked a lot.
I read The The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure in the Fall (it was in my top five fave books of last year), but I just ordered it in paperback (I hate, hate hardcovers). When I got my paperback copy last month I read it again and liked it just as much the second time. This is a hilarious non-fictional account of Wendy McClure’s obsession with Little House on the Prairie. I was big into those books as a kid so I totally get where she’s coming from; mostly because I loved anything old-fashioned and the Little House books are as quaint as can be. In a way this book wasn’t just revisiting Little House but also my childhood as well. Wendy McClure is funny, wry and feels just like a best friend. I was so thrilled to see Wendy on her stop in Austin to promote her book. It was especially great because she passed out bonnets for the audience to wear and we got to churn butter. And I got Wendy to sign my book.
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness and Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood are interesting books and here’s why: they are essentially the same stories told by the same author. Only in the first book (Don’t Let’s Go) the author’s mother is portrayed as very drunk and very crazy. (It’s the true story of a white family living in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe before and during the civil war/revolution. It’s alternately hysterically funny and incredibly tragic.) The second book is kind of apology to her mother who is still pretty furious about how terribly she comes off in her daughter’s book. So Alexandra Fuller, good daughter that she is, retells the family’s story from her mother’s viewpoint. There is much more compassion in this version, but it’s not quite as funny. As a writer with a crazy mother I get what Alexandra Fuller struggles with. So would I recommend reading both of these books? Probably not, unless you happen to love one and want to go on to the other (I did, but I also read them a couple of years apart which worked out well). Either way, these books are both very well written and the story is just incredible unreal and amazing. There are several stories that are unique to each book, but the big events can be found in both. I love books that give me a real sense of actually living in a far-away place. If you like The Glass Castle these books have a similar feel but were quite a bit funnier. (That’s the crazy mother as a little girl holding the monkey’s hand.) There might be swears in these books. I can’t remember nor was I paying much attention to that sort of thing so read at your own peril.
Love Times Three: Our True Story of a Polygamous Marriage By Joe, Alina, Vicki and Valerie Darger. Who is not intrigued and perplexed by polygamy? While this book isn’t super well-written, it’s fascinating and engaging. Unlike all the other polygamy books, this one features a bunch of “normal” polygamists. Not the “french braid, tennis shoes with frumpy dresses” polygamists. These folks live in the suburbs and have a regularish life. Where things get interesting is that this is very much a book about how a family actually makes polygamy work. For example, who gets to sit in the front seat of the car with Joe (the husband), who goes on business trips with him? How do you keep from being jealous? How do holidays work? Super interesting issues that I had never considered. But I have to admit that I was pretty weirded out by this book. Joe married his first two wives on the same day. So crazy! And his third wife is his second wife’s twin sister. Also so crazy! Like most bizarre alternative lifestyle books this is kind of skeevy, but fascinating nontheless. It’s a must-read if you are a fan of Big Love or Sister Wives.
Can you tell I’ve been on a big non-fiction kick? I’ll try to read only fiction this next month to even things out.
All of these books link through to Amazon. You should buy them that way because then I make like 20¢.