December 2010

December 31, 2010

The Other Lands, by David Anthony Durham

Sequel to Acacia. What I like most about this series is Durham's ability to take characters in directions that I'm not quite expecting, yet that also seem plausible.

The Sum of Our Days, by Isabel Allende

This book came to me in an unusual manner. I had dinner a couple of months ago with a friend and her two Chilean colleagues. Despite my limited Spanish and their limited English, we all had a great time, talking about engineering, mining, earthquakes and books. I'm told I have a translator if my books ever get published in Chile :-). At any rate, when my friend returned from her last trip to Santiago, she brought me this book, sent to me from Chile by her colleagues. So thank you, Fabiola (apologies if I got the spelling wrong) and Cecilia.

The book itself is a thoughtful meditation on writing, grief, and love, at different times sad, uplifting and funny. It made me realize I don't write enough. Other writers will likely find resonance in its pages.

Passage, by Connie Willis

I've been hearing lots of good things about Connie Willis' stories, and now I know why. Set almost entirely within the confines of one Colorado hospital and another location that shall remain unnamed to prevent spoilers, this book at first left me wondering if it could sustain itself and its central mystery across 780 pages. Especially as the characters seem to cover the same ground over and over again - a plot device which when not done well quickly becomes annoying, if not downright boring. Well, Ms. Willis obviously has nothing to worry about in this department. Passage made my favourite reads of 2010, and I'll likely be studying it in the future to see if I can figure out its pacing tricks. What impressed me most is how Ms. Willis structured the whole novel around mazes and labyrinths, from its settings, to the plot, to how the characters pursue their scientific inquiries, and their inner thoughts. This book accomplished exactly what it set out to do, which is really all you can ask of any book.

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