Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fall is here -- maybe

I am officially back from vacation, which I allowed to stretch beyond the traditional Labor Day.  There are apples on my tree and some of the birch and elm leaves have turned yellow -- but it was 95 degrees here yesterday, so the seasons feel a little bit blurred.

I understand that I don't have the perspective required, in geological time, to say that we have climate change based on my own observations alone.  However, it does seem to me that we are experiencing weather different from that in the last years of  the 20th century.  Perhaps it is time to stop asking who is to blame, and start asking is there anything we can do?  That is, of course, more difficult.  It is very hard to give up asking "Why?"

In Objects of My Affection by Jill Smolinski, one of the characters says that she thinks "why?" is the most interesting question that can be asked.   In a very different book, How the Light Gets In  by Louise Penny, Chief Inspector Gamache wrestles with the same question:

"How?" Oliver asked.
"She was attacked in her home.  Hit on the head"
Even in the dark, Gamache could see his companion grimace.  "Why would anyone do that?"
And that, of course, was the question, thought Gamache.
Sometimes it was "how," almost always it was "who."  But the question that haunted every investigation was "why."
               --- Louise Penny, How the Light Gets In, page 70

I recommend both books, though I think the Inspector Gamache books deserve to be read in order, since there are several continuing stories beyond the usual continuation of the characters' personal lives.  If you're not ready to commit to all nine, at least begin with A Beautiful Mystery -- but you will go back to the beginning of the series, so you might as well begin with Still Life, knowing that they will get better as they go along -- and that you will be drawn more and more into the lives of the characters.  You do have to like a bit of philosophy and a lot of character with your stories -- these are carefully crafted and unguessable mysteries, but they are not obviously plot driven.

Objects of My Affection is a little slow moving (at least in the audio book) and a little predictable, but you will come to like the characters, and it is entertaining, overall.  Donna Andrews' Owls Well That Ends Well about Meg and Michael's giant garage sale is much funnier, but perhaps my genre prejudice in favor of mysteries is showing.  In any case, if you're planning a fall vacation and need light reading, you might want to pack them both -- or download them to your phone or e-reader, of course.  Why should only summer have beach reading?

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Fortune Cookie

Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty.
Beauty is not love.
Love is not music.
Music is the best.
Frank Zappa