Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is hosted by Should Be Reading.
 Here are a few finds I discovered this week. Have you read any of these?


(an autobiographical memoir)

Starred Review. In this profound and moving memoir, Small, an award-winning children's book illustrator, uses his drawings to depict the consciousness of a young boy. The story starts when the narrator is six years old and follows him into adulthood, with most of the story spent during his early adolescence. The youngest member of a silent and unhappy family, David is subjected to repeated x-rays to monitor sinus problems. When he develops cancer as a result of this procedure, he is operated on without being told what is wrong with him. The operation results in the loss of his voice, cutting him off even further from the world around him. Small's black and white pen and ink drawings are endlessly perceptive as they portray the layering of dream and imagination onto the real-life experiences of the young boy. Small's intuitive morphing of images, as with the terrible post surgery scar on the main character's throat that becomes a dark staircase climbed by his mother, provide deep emotional echoes. Some understanding is gained as family secrets are unearthed, but for the most part David fends for himself in a family that is uncommunicative to a truly ghastly degree. Small tells his story with haunting subtlety and power.



The Long Walk Home is a story about grief and hope, about love and loss, and about two people struggling with the agonizing complexities of fidelity–to a spouse, to a moral code, to each other, and to a passion neither thought would ever appear again. By turns lyrical and gripping, set amid a landscape of breathtaking beauty and unpredictable danger, this is a story you will not soon forget. 

Keen irony and humour amongst the cats and tomb thieves of Istanbul 

The setting is a stately residence in Istanbul built by Russian noble émigré Pavel Antipov for his wife Agripina at the end of the Tsarist reign, now sadly dilapidated, flea-infested, and home to ten families. Shafak uses the narrative structure of A Thousand and One Nights to construct a story-within-a-story narrative. Inhabitants include Ethel, a lapsed Jew in search of true love and the sad and beautiful Blue Mistress whose personal secret provides the novel with an unforgettable denouement. Add to this a strange, intensifying stench whose cause is revealed at the end of the book, and we have a metaphor for the cultural and spiritual decay in the heart of Istanbul.

13 comments:

  1. Great finds. I really liked The Long Walk Home.

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  2. These sound interesting. I've been curious about Stitches.

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  3. I just put Stitches on my "wish list" on PaperbackSwap. That will be a new one for me, but I've only heard great things.

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  4. Great finds! Stitches is really good!

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  5. I have two of those books sitting on my shlef! I think. I'm pretty sure I have an unread ARC of The Long Wlak Home sitting around somewhere, and last night I actually considered starting The Flea Palace. I went with A Farewell to Arms instead.

    If I can find The Long Walk Home I'll let you know and you can have it.

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  6. I'm definitely going to check out the The Long Walk Home. It sounds wonderful, and has a striking cover!

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  7. The Flea Palace is what I want. A frame story set in Istanbul - gotta have it!

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  8. Received Stitches as a gift from my daughter and I was absolutely mesmerized by the haunting quality of this book. I loaned it to my sister and just got it back — should have a review up soon ...

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  9. I read Stitches, and while I didn't love it, it's quite good (and a fast read). It's definitely worth getting from the library!

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  10. I love your Friday Finds posts. You seem to find great books that I want to read. Thanks.

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  11. I hadn't heard of The Flea Palace before. Very interesting sounding and I love the cover!

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  12. I came across Stitches at the bookstore but stayed strong that day and added it to my wishlist instead of just buying it. The other 2 sound really interesting...2 more for the list.

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  13. I have heard such good things about Stitches and hope you like it, and after reading the synopsis of The Flea Palace, I am going to have to go out and order it!! You always choose such interesting books!

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