If you know me, you know I “retired” at the end of the year. While I don’t plan on never working again, I don’t see the corporate life in my future any time soon (unless a great freelance job comes up at some point!). So, I know what you are thinking, I bet she has been lying around reading all the time! Surprisingly, my level of reading is about the same as before. I found when I stopped working I was honestly TIRED! I’m still a little tired, but starting to dust off the cobwebs and I have gotten back to work in my studio. So, here goes!
DON’T STOP THE CARNIVAL by Herman Wouk: Written in 1965, Norman Paperman is a New York press agent and after a heart attack, decides to leave New York to run a hotel on the fictional Caribbean island of Amerigo. Funny and satirical as Norman tries to re-invent himself, as there is disaster looming in many forms. He leaves his wife in New York for awhile, befriends an ex-Hollywood star living under another name, has to deal with lack of rain resulting in the lack of water, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Herman Wouk is a Pulitzer Prize winning author, penning such classics as The Caine Mutiny and War and Remembrance. Surprisingly, before World War II, he wrote comedy – so this is a return to his roots. It is loosely based on the time Wouk and his family lived seven years in St. Thomas.
But, the story doesn’t end there, in fact it takes a surreal turn. Upon reading this book, Jimmy Buffet decided to buy a hotel and move to the Caribbean. Fast forward 20 years. Somehow Jimmy Buffet and Herman Wouk hook up and decide to create a Broadway musical based on the book. Buffet wrote 20 original compositions for the play and released an album (it reached #15 in the Billboard 200 chart – released in April 1998). The show had a brief and apparently interesting run at the Coconut Grove Theatre south of Miami.
Also, while reading this book, Herman Wouk celebrated his 100th birthday, even releasing a memoir Sailor and Fiddler, Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author. You can read about his interview on NPR here. Sailor refers to his Navy experience, Fiddler refers to his faith.
OLIVE KITTERIDGE by Elizabeth Stout – This was the Pulitzer Prize winning book from 2008, as well as an Emmy Award winning mini-series for HBO. Set in Crosby, Maine, which seems to exist on the edge of the world, it consists of 13 interwoven stories that is drawn together not only by place, but the larger than life character of Olive Kitteridge, a retired school teacher. Sometimes Olive is a character in the story, other times her name is mentioned. At the beginning of the book, Olive was not an easy character to like, brash, sometimes barking at others, and often tyrannical, especially when dealing with her only son Christopher. But as she ages, you find yourself routing for her as she accepts the change that comes with age.
I haven’t seen the HBO mini-series, but i’d like to.
TRIGGER WARNING; SHORT FICTIONS AND DISTURBANCES by Neil Gaiman – What are little triggers? According to Gaiman, they are the things “that wait for us in the dark corridors of our lives.” Some of these stories are magical, with a man building an igloo out of books, and some are just creepy. There is a good little story about Sherlock Holmes in China (without Dr. Watson) The Case of Death and Honey. Interestlngly, after reading that story, I read a review by a fellow blogger that reviews books on his blog SKJAM!. He had just read a Sherlock Holmes book that included this same short story! You can read the review of that book here.
The book has an introduction with a blurb about each story, which was very helpful for me, as I’d not read Neil Gaiman before. I loved the story behind A Calendar of Tales, with 12 stories within it based on each month. Each story was the result of an answer to a tweet Gainman posted on Twitter, like why is January dangerous?
Interestingly, there is a story called THE RETURN OF THE THIN WHITE DUKE which I had just read when the world lost David Bowie. A Japanese fashion magazine wanted to have artist Yoshitaka Amman do some fashion drawings of Bowie and his wife Iman, and the artist asked Gaiman to write a short story to accompany it. The magazine lost interest after Gaiman had written about half of it. He decided to finish it for this anthology.
THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF SHERLOCK HOLMES ABROAD – edited by Simon Clark – this is a collection of short stories that focus on Sherlock, often accompanied by Dr. Watson, solving crimes around the world. I’m a Sherlock Holmes fan, so I enjoyed this, but some are better than others. Arthur Conan Doyle narrates one story, Edgar Allan Poe makes an appearance as does Henrik Ibsen. I felt most of the writers accurately got the language and the tone of the original stories.