03 June 2015

What I Read In May: A Big Fat Nothing...

...but I might be able to work up a mini book review just for you.

Seriously, folks.  I didn't finish a single book in May.  This is probably the first month in my 40 years of reading that I've not finished a book, and it astounds me every time I think about it. 

There are reasons (travel to Ireland) and there are Reasons (private). Life has been difficult lately, and it's probably going to get harder before it gets better.  Any spare prayers or good vibes or Magic 8 Ball answers you can send my way would be terrific.  I'm being utterly in earnest. I don't want to bog down my space here, which is purportedly dedicated to books and travel, by talking too much about my personal life. Sharing that much in a public space isn't really me, but it's also true that I'm in need of  any support you can share over the ether. Please and thank you.

Last night I met a terrific author whose debut novel I pretty much fell in love with. Her name is Leslie Parry, and she's as adorable and fun as her photo indicates.  Plus just look at her shoes. She was raised in Pasadena, California, where she worked in television and film for a while, before moving to Chicago where she now lives with her two lazy but wonderful cats.  If you really want to get her animated, ask her about her dog back home in California, whom she misses like crazy, or the goats and chickens she would like to raise one day.

Church of Marvels is a many-splendored thing, tying together various narratives from the most colorful characters, exploring the darker underbelly of fin de siecle New York City. We get side show characters from Coney Island, we have a character who wakes up in an insane asylum with no clear knowledge of how she got there, and there's one poor young man who is a night soiler.  That is, he cleans the privies on the lower east side by hand. By the time I started to anticipate just how their stories would become intertwined, it was too late – I was so mesmerized that I had to finish the last 200+ pages in one long stretch. 

Just read this book.  It's fun.  It's atmospheric. It's well-written. And it ends beautifully. There are lots of good novels out there that fall apart at the end, or that don't know how to end. Leslie Parry could teach a master class on how to end a novel, however.