TV OR NOT TV (01/02/2014)

Once I extricate myself from House of Cards, the not to be missed Netflix original movie, the following books will be on my agenda. I only have eight more episodes of House of Cards, and since I'm watching it "marathon style", I hope to open a book soon!

It will be hard to overcome the shock of watching Kevin Spacey as the diabolical congressman exacting his revenge on those who betrayed by one. I'm in a constant state of angst, horror and surprise...

The miniseries is based on a novel by British author, Michael Dobbs. Don't miss this Emmy Award winning series...It's taken over my life, at least for the remaining episodes!


So back to books and reality! Here are two novels worth checking out, according to some blog readers and The New York Times....

SAINT MONKEY By Jacinda Townsend

In 1950s Appalachian Kentucky, mourning haunts the lives of two African-American girls, Audrey and Caroline. Audrey's father dies in the Korean War, and she lives with her grandfather and alcoholic mother. Caroline's father, Sonnyboy, kills her mother and is sent to prison. At 17, Audrey, a gifted pianist, makes her way to Harlem and begins a promising career. Caroline, resenting Audrey's ambition and feeling abandoned, languishes in Kentucky.

With the backdrop of segregation and its humiliations and acts of violence, the story examines an intense friendship marred by betrayals, real and perceived. What's impressive about this first novel — apart from the startling music of its language — is Ms. Townsend's willingness to steep her characters in heartache without relief.


Aaliya Saleh, a 72-year-old Lebanese woman, lives alone in a book-stuffed apartment in a chaotic Beirut. "Owning an assault rifle was not an indicator of craziness," she says. She's isolated, but not inclined to do anything about it. She is childless. Her ex-husband ("the impotent insect") is dead, as is her closest friend, Hannah.

Always a voracious reader, she becomes insatiable after Hannah's death. "Books became my milk and honey." And she has a secret: Every year, for the past 50 years, she has translated a novel into classical Arabic, then stores it in a box. No one knows they exist.

Throughout, books are her faithful companions: she leans on Pessoa, Sebald, Rilke, Proust, Cavafy and others as she tells stories from her past. "An Unnecessary Woman" is a meditation on, among other things, aging, politics, literature, loneliness, grief and resilience.

If there are flaws to this beautiful and absorbing novel, they are not readily apparent.



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