Current reads

Since I’ve been so busy with the move, I haven’t had a chance to update the Current Reads section to the left. I finished Francine Prose’s Blue Angel last week and was too angry to write anything about it. I hated it. But it still might be a good book, if that makes any sense. I found it so well-written that I found it too maddening and I had to skim parts. The characters were all awful human beings and the ending made me want to toss the book out the window. Did anyone else have this reaction? I know Prose is a great writer. I have a galley of her new book and am wondering if I should try it. Is it her writing or her story that I disliked so much?
Next I grabbed a copy of Blue Clay People: Seasons on Africa’s Fragile Edge by William Powers. Powers’ memoir about his time spent in Liberia as an aid worker beginning in 1999 unveils the corruption and violence scarring the country. Typical to the aid worker memoir, he starts out naive, wide-eyed and full of ideas about fighting poverty and saving the environment. And of course, reality sets in at some point. His outrage comes throughout the memoir and I found that tiresome. I enjoyed the passages where he immersed himself into the Liberian society, learning the lingo, enjoying what’s left of the rainforest, etc. In the end, when he leaves for a new assignment, you know that it was probably best for him. His earnestness and naivety were only leading him down a dark spiral. I wish he had spent more time discussing the plight of the Liberians than listing his constant shock, but the book was still a good read.

3 thoughts on “Current reads

  1. birnbaum

    I haven’t read Powers’s book but it’possible you might get a better grasp of the Liberian civil war by reading Russell Banks’s novel, The Darling.

    I am ambivalent about Francine Prose’s A Changed Man, in large part because I found myself unable to embrace any of the characters. What does it mean when we say someone writes well and yet their characters are unconvincing?


  2. Dave Worsley

    Francine Prose is a favourite of mine because of her venal characters. No one except Bonnie’s kids (maybe)get off light in Changed Man. Bonnie also, is close to pure, but shows some questionable judgement, but who among us, etc. Prose’s characters are hard to love but I find them damn easy to follow. Perhaps Blue Angel is just by a touch, the better book, but I wouldn’t want to argue the point too strenuously. I thought the new one worked quite well, also.


Comments are closed.