The Red Tent
Tons of people have recomended this book to me and I finally bought a copy before heading off to Chicago for a week. Finished it last week and my response is....
Seriously. I can't for the life of me figure out what all the fuss is about. All my friends enthused over it. They are reading it in the book clubs in churches all over this great nation. I suppose taking a bible story and exploring from the woman's point of view would be a cool conceit, but, uh, this book is so poorly written I almost couldn't get through it. NONE of it seemed genuine. Not the relationships between the women, nor the relationships with the lovers. They all seemed false, somehow. And worse, boring. Yes, boring.
One reviewer on Amazon.com hit the nail on the head when he wrote that the author goes on and on about all the stories that get told in the red tent and never once tells us one of them. We just get to take her word for it.
I wish I had read that review before shelling out $15 bucks. Having been at a bunch of births, I can tell you right now I would be VERY suprised if Diamant has actually been at any. And since the basic premise of the book is that Rachel is a midwife, it would have helped if at least that part had been believable.
I wasn't impressed.
The Sex Lives of Cannibals
I am a sucker for travel writing. I count Paul Theroux as one of my favorite authors. I love being an armchair traveler. This book, by J. Maarten Troost, is a fun read. As a late 20-something post graduate school graduate, he and his girlfriend decide to move to a tiny island in the Pacific for a couple of years. This hilarious (and sometimes snarky) book is the result. He speaks of his experiences there very frankly, but always with a definate and growing sense of affection for the people, which saves it from being a bitch fest. Reccomend it.
The Grail Bird
This is the true story of the most recent attempts at finding the possibly extinct Ivory Billed Woodpecker. Like the Sex Lives of Cannibals, it seems like a great heat wave read, as it mostly takes place in the swamps of Louisiana. I have a personal vested interest in this tale, as my grandfather was good friends with the fellows at the Ornithology Department at Cornell who first got the Ivory Billed on tape and film back in the 30's. In fact, we have a letter from a guy named Kellog telling my grandfather all about his exciting discovery.
Unfortunately, the author of this newest book is probably a better bird watcher than writer. I am about halfway through it and am finding it very (very) boring. Which it really wouldn't have to be the case, now would it? I mean, I would imagine a good writer would have a ball with the pursuit stories... what with cotton mouths and alligators and bird watching tourists from New Jersey.
I am not sure I would finish this one except for the personal connection. If you are a birder, get it from the library. Otherwise, probably a pass.