Monday, January 21, 2008

Moving Day and a Review or Two

This is an old and yet new blog. I just decided to move here from Wordpress, and cut and pasted all my posts from the old blog onto here. The comments at the bottom of each post are from my previous life on Wordpress, just to be confusing.

There were many things I liked about Wordpress, but I couldn't make my blog look the way I wanted to. I think Wordpress is for those who really understand the digital world. Possibly the entire inanimate world.

The inanimate world and I have never been friends. Up to now, I’ve thought of computers and web sites as animate. But I guess they line up with the doorsteps and pill bottles, out to get me.

On to the world’s best animate objects: Books.

As the New Year dawned, I was finishing The Fall of Troy by Peter Ackroyd, prizewinning author of history, biography, and historical fiction (often, like this one, a mixture of the three). This odd little book is about Heinrich Schliemann (here renamed Heinrich Obermann)–the flamboyant archaeologist who uncovered what lots of people think was ancient Troy–and his young Greek wife, Sophia.

I don’t know enough about Schliemann to know where history ends and fiction begins. In Ackroyd’s version, Obermann is obsessed with finding the Troy depicted in Homer’s Iliad, but the realities of ancient life keep emerging inconveniently from the Turkish dust. Obermann steadfastly ignores, misinterprets, or falsifies his findings in the service of his obsession. As an archaeologist, moreover, he has a split personality: sometimes the truth-seeker, but more often the treasure-hunter with a cache of ancient gold hidden under the floorboards.

His wife, a scholarly lady who barely knows her new husband, keeps digging up increasingly disturbing evidence that he isn’t what he seems. She, too, tries to ignore the truth until it finally gets the better of her.

This is a quick read and a fun one, although the character of Obermann is so heavy-handed that it seems Ackroyd must have had it in for Schliemann for some reason. The character of Sofia makes up for him–nuanced, absorbing, mysterious in her own right. While this isn’t the best novel I’ve read, it made me want to read some of his others.

Since I finished Troy I’ve been reading Christmas presents, this year almost all mysteries. I started with The Dead Cat Bounce, one of the “Home Repair is Homicide” series by Sarah Graves of Eastport, Maine. I’ve wanted to read one of these for a long time and I wasn’t disappointed. As a writer “from away,” Graves does a pretty good job of depicting Maine people as intelligent and unquaint (although you should bear in mind that your informant is herself “from away”). The plot is OK, the characters 3D. She’s no P.D. James, but I had a good time.

I moved on to Janet Evanovich’s Lean Mean Thirteen, which made me laugh out loud in places. All her books are similar, so you don’t want to read two in a row. But if I can reread Pride & Prejudice every eighteen months or so, I can be an Evanovich fan that often, too. So there.

Comments (3)

No comments: