Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

"While You Sleep" by Stephanie Merritt


That's all I really want to say about this book. Unfortunately I can't allow myself to leave it at that, because later (when my literary amnesia takes over) I'll find myself trying to remember the story, and wondering what was so bad about it.

The story is about Zoe Adams, who is taking a step back from her marriage by temporarily renting an old house in Scotland. Of course as soon as she arrives she begins to get the idea that the house is haunted. Unexplainable things happen, blah blah blah, she almost drowns a few times, but is she going crazy or are there ghosts or is it the real people who are scary? Yeah, that old conundrum.

It wasn't really so terrible. If it had been truly awful I would have had a field day tearing it to shreds for all nine of my readers. (Hi, readers!) I would say the story was interesting enough to power me through it. I like ghost stories; this one didn't feel truly creepy to me, but at least it wasn't too laughable or dull. But I did find it predictable (though I'll never know if it was actually predictable or if the mention of an unreliable narrator on the back cover was too big a clue). And I found the hypersexualization (blamed on a house!) a bit false and awkward. In all, I never lost myself in this book and it didn't give me the chills.

Oh well. Moving on . . .

Saturday, March 14, 2020

"Machines Like Me" by Ian McEwan

This book is extremely well-written and compelling, which is no surprise coming from Ian McEwan. I bought it at the lovely Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse in Santa Fe last November (you know, back before it was socially irresponsible to travel) which was just as much a bookstore heaven as I remembered from my first visit.

Machines Like Me is the story of neighbors-turned-lovers Charlie and Miranda, living in an alternate England of the 1980s where technology had already far surpassed that of today, due in part to the aid of Alan Turing who had not died in 1954. Charlie purchases an Adam--basically a robot who can pass as human--out of curiosity more than anything else, and the book revolves around the impact this decision has.

As I look back on this book, for some reason my main thoughts are focused on one question: did each character get what he or she deserved? Not that I feel like they should or should not have; not that I feel like that was the book's main focus; but because, with these characters and their circumstances, that is an interesting and complex question and I'm not sure of the answer.