So, this post is to catch up with some of my reading that doesn't fit under a category. Late in the spring I read Michael Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road without any expectations. Given to me without comment by the siblings-in-law, I was surprised to find an adventure novel written with a wide-ranging vocabulary, twisting sentences and characters simultaneously complex and caricatures. I liked it, probably all the more because I started listing words I needed to look up on the very first page. If Chabon hadn't added a silly afterward as to why, he, a great literary man, would write an adventure story, I would have liked it even more. That Chabon felt he needed to justify the book diminished it in my eyes, yet I still recommend it and will probably read The Yiddish Policemen's Union one of these times.
I read David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas because I was told to by "books i done read". I don't know the author of books I done read but I generally like her taste and I love her book reviews, so if you are wanting some suggestions, check out her site. Cloud Atlas is a story within a story within a story. At some point I was very fearful that it would all turn out to be just a story that someone made up. The thought then made me laugh because, well, that's exactly what novels are. All of the overlapping stories are made up by David Mitchell and the result it good. There were times I thought Mitchell was trying too hard to be clever, but in the end, I wanted the Mister to read it right away so we could talk about it and I thought I should flip back through to figure out what I missed, because I'm sure there was lots. Many of my readers will enjoy it and I'm sure some of you will love it, but I couldn't pick out who, for sure.
While I felt both Chabon and Mitchell were out to demonstrate that they were clever, well-read and in command of the language, sometimes self-consciously and snobbishly so, John Steinbeck wrote Travels with Charley as someone who long previously proved he could write and was now just out to relate an adventure. Travels with Charley is probably the most well-written road trip book I've read (to tempt me to add Grapes of Wrath to my list, it would have to be). For many of us wanderers, the introductory descriptions of wanderlust are well worth checking the book out from the library. The trip itself, a journey across the states with a poodle, falls short on adventure and scenery, but the themes of homogenization and racism made me laugh and cry at how much had changed since 1960 and how little.
Finally, back in May I read 2 more of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books and they remain recommended fun reading.