147. A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin
Publication: Orbit (April 6, 2009), Hardback, 464pp / ISBN 0316041254
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Read: July 2010
I picked this up from the library based on this book trailer from way back. Well. It wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for– I think sometimes the writing was trying too hard to be lyrical and that irritated me– and there was such a large hurdle at the beginning of trying to sort out the I/we stuff that we didn’t start off on all that right a foot with each other. But I did enjoy it enough to want to read the next book in the series whenever it comes out.
I’m hoping that because of certain events in this book, which I won’t get into because of spoilers, book two will be somewhat easier to read (and understand). And I also hope that it has lots more nifty urban magic stuff in it, because that was my favorite part of the book! I loved how Ms Griffin weaved the worlds of magic and modern science together: some of it was amazing, and some of it was scary and I really enjoyed it. I liked Matthew Swift, the protagonist, too, though it took me a while because of the whole confusion thing to actually achieve that state.
148. Do Travel Writers Go to Hell? by Thomas Kohnstamm
Publication: Three Rivers Press (April 22, 2008), Paperback, 288pp / ISBN 0307394654
Genre: Non-Fiction, Travel
Read: July 2010
If I thought Tony Wheeler was a douche bag, this guy was an even bigger one. The whole book is him whining about not being paid enough money to write his guide book, not having enough time to finish writing, getting drunk, getting high, and having sex. He also half-asses much of what he’s writing or just makes shit up. Near the end he’s completely out of money (because he blew it all on booze!!) and has to sell drugs to make enough to finish his assignment and get out of Brazil.
To be more fair, some of the writing was very good, and the story of how he got to be a travel writer was interesting. It almost made me like him! I also liked the behind the scenes stuff for travel writing, especially since he didn’t really pull any punches. But he ruined it at the end. Oh, how he ruined it.
I think Mr Kohnstamm was trying to get my sympathy by pulling out the travel-writers-don’t-get-paid-enough card, which is true, and it’s also true that they don’t have a lot of time to actually write about what they’re supposed to. It’s a tough job, and Mr Kohnstamm was trying to do a good job…at least in the beginning of his assignment. But I don’t enjoy reading about frat boy behavior and I DON’T have any sympathy for people who get wasted every night and then wonder where the hell their money went! DUH. Down your throat.
Read it if you want to know more about travel writing, but don’t expect to like the author or any of the people he writes about. I think he was going for a Hunter S. Thompson thing, but he’s nowhere near as interesting as Thompson, so.
149. All the Fishes Come Home to Roost by Rachel Manija Brown
Publication: Rodale Books (September 15, 2005), Hardcover, 352pp / ISBN 1594861390
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Read: July 2010
This book seriously made up for the crap in Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?! I loved it. I love it just as much as I loved Meeting Faith, except it reminds me more of Around the Bloc in that it’s less focused on personal spiritual growth and more on how an individual reacts to a culture almost entirely different from their own and how it affects their life. Hint: it was in a profound way. The twist is that the strange culture Ms Brown was introduced to was her own parents.
See, they belong(ed) to a cult that thinks this dude called Meher Baba was a manifestation of God. (You may know him as the guy who coined “don’t worry, be happy.”) Her parents moved to India in the 1980s, bringing Ms Brown along with them and setting up a new life in an ashram. It’s a radical change from the very Western upbringing Ms Brown had, and she does talk about that a lot. But she never dips into the “omg aren’t these people funny and weird” territory that some travel memoirs love to talk about. It’s more like “here’s what happened, and some of it’s horrible and some of it was good, and it’s all what made me the person I am today.”
It’s a funny book, make no doubt about that, but some of the things that happened to Ms Brown were Not Good. And then when she talks about the impact her experiences in India had on her life as an adult– it gets a little sad. But it’s a really enjoyable book, and I’ll totally read whatever else Ms Brown has to offer! All the Fishes Come Home to Roost is her first book, but I’m going to keep an eye out for any others.