Friday, September 12, 2014

Recommended Reading: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

If you are looking for a funny, breezy, sweet read, definitely check out The Rosie Project by Australian writer Graeme Simsion.

The book's protagonist is a professor of genetics who likely has Asperger's syndrome. The professor, Don Tillman, has decided to take a scientific approach to finding, at long last, a wife. While pursuing this, The Wife Project, he meets Rosie Jarman. Rosie is not at all what Don has defined as the perfect life partner. But he likes her and decides to use his scientific skills and resources to help Rosie find her biological father. Quirky adventures follow for Don and Rosie. And for Don, it seems that just when you stop trying to find love, love appears.

This is a creative, up-beat, and enjoyable novel. Check out The Rosie Project.

Monday, September 8, 2014

"Delicious: A Novel" by Ruth Reichl

Delicious: Girl moves to New York, finds her niche, gets a makeover, gets a new boyfriend, solves a mystery, and comes to terms with a sorrow from her past. Food is involved.

This plot appears to make Delicious what they call "women's fiction". I found it to be a perfectly fine beach or airplane read from Reichl, who is a food writer, the last editor-in-chief of Gourmet, and author of numerous memoirs including the excellent Tender at the Bone.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Recommended Reading: "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir " by Roz Chast.

The dreaded parent-in-crisis call: From Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

Roz Chast is a cartoonist. You're probably familiar with her work for The New Yorker. In her graphic memoir Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, she turns her talents to chronicling her experiences helping her parents as they physically and mentally decline from old age to old-old age and ultimate death.

If you've gone through this same experience with a parent, as I have, you will immediately recognize the book's truth. Roz copes with it all, including emergency phone calls, hospitalizations, the need to move her parents into a new living situation, coping when the first parent dies, dealing with institutions, paperwork, and worrying about money (will it last?). The messiness of all of this is cleanly presented in Chast's signature drawing style, some photos, and a succinct narrative.

For those of us in the United States, the familiarity of Chast's experience is both comforting and frightening. I found it striking that what Chast went through with her parents in Brooklyn and Connecticut so closely mirrored my experiences with my elderly parents who lived a world away in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Many times while reading this memoir I wished I could call Roz Chast on the phone and tell her 'that happened to me too, and I felt the same way.'

My mom died last March at age 89. In January, when I was visiting her in her room at an assisted living facility, she said, "It is a terrible thing to get this old." Well, it for sure is not easy. And Roz Chast does a brilliant job illustrating the experience from an adult child's perspective.