For some reason I am at low ebb this morning; my apologies. So: A short post, and the fervent hope that the holiday-shortened week does good things for all of us. It is my sincere hope that none of you have to travel too far, or get up to go shopping at 4 a.m. on Black Friday. Word is that Wal-Mart has been doing some planning to try and cut down on, you know, their workers getting trampled, so at least that's good news.
It's odd that I'm not really feeling like writing about books, because I read some great books over the weekend. One of my favorites was Audrey Niffeneggers's new novel Her Fearful Symmetry, which I loved.* If this helps at all, this is the description of it that I just wrote for Nancy Pearl's and my forthcoming book, Now Read This III: A Guide to Mainstream Fiction**:
"When Elspeth Noblin dies, she leaves her London flat and her entire estate to her nieces, identical twins Julia and Valentina Poole, who, at twenty-one, are still living with their parents in a Chicago suburb. There is one stipulation, however; they must agree to live together in the flat for one year before selling it, and their parents (including their mother Edie, Elspeth’s identical twin sister) are not allowed to enter the flat if they visit. The more dominant of the pair, Julia, decides the flat is just the thing they have been waiting for, and the pair travels to London and moves in, discovering as their downstairs neighbor their aunt Elspeth’s boyfriend Robert, while their upstairs neighbor is a man suffering from OCD. They are not the only residents of the house; Elspeth, too, makes her residence there (as a ghost, and one who “works out” so that she can contact the living through various means) with plans of her own."
What I didn't mention much there is that the book is set in London, so every time Niffenegger had one of her characters do anything London-y, it made me heartsick for London. "Oh, they're going on the Tube!" "They're eating at a Pret!" (Pret a Manger are these great chain coffee/deli restaurants they have all over in London; nearly every morning when we were there we went to one--I know, we're creatures of habit, even on vacation--and had chocolate-filled croissants and bananas and coffee. Yum.)
All of the above doesn't really begin to do this book justice. It's weird and haunted and I love the way it ends, and I'm not going to say anymore about it, because if you do decide to read it, you should really go into it fresh. Suffice it to say, I really enjoy Audrey Niffenegger. I like that her books are kind of magical and sort of romantic but they're definitely not sweet. What I don't like is that one of the blurbs on the back of her book is from Jodi Picoult, which I don't understand at all. But I have to remember that Jodi Picoult's name doesn't activate most people's gag reflexes the way it sets off mine.
*If you'll remember, I was very fond of her novel The Time Traveler's Wife, as well.
**You like how I just slip my advertising in there? Dreadfully unsubtle but that's the way advertising is sometimes.