Monday, December 10, 2012

Desperate Catch Up Day

WARNING - Whine to follow from Mom-Without-A-Life

I spent the past few days volunteering, cooking lunch, running about with family, etc - so I missed a few days of my Christmas Book meme. I'm catching up today and tomorrow, so I'll post what I missed in the meantime....

Day 7 - Most Underrated Book -

Plainsong by Kent Haruf wins this category. A book about a pregnant teen, two old farmers, a teacher with two sons and a wife in a deep depression, as well as a dreadful bully whose parents sue the school district, Plainsong is lovely, spare, and as breathtaking as the rural Colorado landscape that is the setting.

There are no fancy turns of phrase, but when one of the McPherons - the two old farmers who take in Victoria, the pregnant teenager - gets angry, Haruf's language reflects his speechless, blistering rage in a way that is genius.

The book really should be taught in college lit courses (maybe it is?) instead of The Scarlet Letter. Nothing wrong with Hawthorne, except the archaic language and reactions to the situation can turn off emerging readers. (Please, while we are at it, could we also get rid of Billy Budd?)

The ending is lovely, evocative of a silent sunset over bare, frozen fields. But it is more than that - Plainsong includes an exciting plot, told from several points of view, as well as what I call "That Elusive Compelling Factor." When I began the book, I had to keep reading until I finished - it was that good.

As for the Indie book in this category - alas, there are many, many Indies that get lost in the shuffle of Fifty Shades and celebrity tell-alls. I had a very difficult time selecting just one. In the end I picked The Amber Room by Tom Harris. 

Perhaps browsers are looking for action-adventures about a mythical treasure in Russia and thus skip over Harris - a mistake, since this book delivers a gently told urban fantasy about a boy who is trying to save his sister in hospital. 

He goes on several adventures with a fairy called Rosie Boots. She is a great creation - brave and acerbic, humorous and not at all sentimental. I'm not a fairy fan in my urban fantasy, but I really loved her.

I also loved the main character, North, who is a kleptomaniac. Granted, I'm a sucker for character flaws, and his flaw leads him in (and out) of adventures in the book. I highly recommend it as a great read over your latte in the cyber cafe as a great break from holiday shopping.


Johanna Garth said...

I'm loving all your picks and wishing I had time to read them all. Seems like we're keeping the same schedule!

Alison DeLuca said...

Thanks! Yup, we have the same schedule - desperately running around after words and kids!

Unknown said...

Sounds like a fun read! I'll have to add to my growing list!