Now Arriving from: Seattle

Hello Fellow Challenge Readers!

How did Seattle treat you – did you find something especially good to read this month?

I read a great book this month, Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple and I loved it. Told via emails, memos, letters, text messages and narrative, the story of Bernadette and her unraveling comes together bit by bit. A brilliant architect, a petty argument nearly destroys her and she withdraws with her husband and daughter to Seattle. Bernadette’s acerbic observations of the people and world around her are very funny and her slow descent into madness is heartbreaking. Misunderstandings and missed communications spiral events into a madcap comedy-of-errors until Bernadette’s only choice, she believes, is to disappear. However Bee, her teenage daughter, will not give up on her and goes looking for her, piecing together Bernadette’s story both past and present.

Bee makes a lovely narrator. She’s as scrappy and observant and brilliant as her mother. That Bernadette is able to return and reunite with her husband and daughter is due in large part to Bee’s determination and love. I got a lot out of this book, about how lack of communication can destroy, how forgiveness can heal, how love can overcome many things, but most of all, I felt this book was about being true to yourself. When Bernadette denies her creativity and tries to be someone she’s not, she nearly kills herself and puts her family in turmoil. Despite the seemingly heavy themes, the book is laugh out loud funny and sometimes just this side of absurd – a fun read that quickly captures your attention.

Seattle plays a big part in this book, especially the first half (interestingly – and somewhat oddly (although it works) – the second half takes place mostly in Antarctica!). Some of the characters love Seattle and some hate it, so you get a pretty balanced view of both the good and the bad. Lots of rain, of course, but also lots of descriptions of the neighborhoods and traffic and businesses that keep the city running. A fun, quirky city that makes the perfect backdrop to a fun, quirky book.

What about you – did you find a great Seattle read this month? Let us know in the comments!


Veronica Mars

One of my all-time favorite shows that was canceled too soon, Veronica Mars deserved to go on much longer than three seasons.  The show is about high school student Veronica Mars, who juggles classes with working at Mars Investigations, her father Keith’s private detective agency.    Keith Mars used to be the sheriff of Neptune, California until scandal hit the small town: Veronica’s best friend, rich and beautiful Lily Kane, was murdered.  After Keith accused Lily’s father, powerful businessman Jake Kane, Keith was removed from office and he and Veronica became the town outcasts.  Veronica and her dad work together to solve a different mystery every week at Mars Investigations, but the two work all season long to discover what really happened to Lily Kane and bring the killer to justice.

If you like mystery, drama, and intrigue, you’ll love this show.  Yes it’s about high school, but it has a film noir feel to it and is pretty serious as opposed to a typical teen show.  There is, however, plenty of humor involved; Veronica has a very snarky sense of humor that really appeals to me.  And of course, there’s a love story, as Veronica used to date Lily’s brother Duncan until he mysteriously broke up with her before Lily’s murder.  But one of my favorite things about the show was the relationship between Veronica and her dad.  It was just the two of them after Veronica’s mom skipped town, and they have one of those amazing father-daughter relationships that every viewer has to be jealous of.  I highly recommend giving this show a try, it really has something for everyone!  Stop by the library today to pick up seasons one, two, and three.

Snark attack

snark1David Denby is a man on a moral, ethical mission in Snark: A Polemic in Seven Fits. In it, he seeks to quell “the bad kind of invective — low, teasing, snide, condescending, knowing” he refers to as snark.

This extended essay of a little over 100 pages has a definite academic lean. In it, he defines and traces forms of this disdainful rhetoric over the centuries. Included is a section on the purported origin of the word in Lewis Carroll’s Hunting the Snark, as well as its roots among macho posturing poets and warriors over the ages.

The more poignant examples are culled from the combatants in the last presidential campaign.  A shocking revelation, I know.