BOOK & BLOG
January 11, 2010
Books of the Week:
I’ve read Mike Carey’s previous books with enthusiasm, so I was really anxious to enjoy Dead Men’s Boots. This third Felix Castor novel takes longer to get off the ground, and a couple of times plot points were really obvious to me that I thought would be really obvious to Felix, too. But after I’d hurdled the first third of the book, I really enjoyed it. Felix Castor lives in modern London, but a London where the laying of ghosts is a legitimate occupation. Felix uses music to get the ghost to move along. One thing I appreciate about this character is that he makes mistakes, and they have consequences not only for Felix but for the people around him. Felix’s redeeming characteristics are that he’s loyal, brave (in his way), and he never seems to give up. In this book, Felix doesn’t return the phone calls of a man in his line of business, a man he considers to be a dim bulb, and when the man dies his widow asks Felix to help lay the man’s ghost. It’s just the beginning of trouble for Felix. Juliet the succubus and dead-man-walking Nicky are this book, too.
Service Included attracted me because it’s about working in a very upscale restaurant, and since I write about a waitress I was interested in hearing about the upper echelon of the food-service industry. Phoebe Damrosch’s account of her time working at Per Se in New York City is full of details I didn’t know, though maybe the narrative didn’t have the bite I’d anticipated. However, there was plenty of interest in Damrosch’s book about being a foodie and a food server. If you’ve ever been to a restaurant anywhere near as fancy as Per Se, you’ll be interested in how the whole ballet around your table was managed. I’ve never flown so high, but I was intrigued.
Gil Adamson’s The Outlander is sort of a literary western, set in the turn of the century in the Montana-Idaho area. Mary Boulton has to start running after she shoots her husband. His brothers are in close pursuit. Mary, finally free of the bondage of her marriage, is determined to live. She’s not only pursued by her brothers-in-law but by the ghosts of her dead baby and the misery of her marriage. In her journey, she encounters interesting people and undergoes many a hardship. I wanted so much to find out what Mary’s end would be that I ended up reading the book in a big gulp. I’m really glad I did, because this is a notably good novel.
I don’t get the after-holiday blahs. I understand that it’s a difficult period for many people, that the time after Christmas and New Year’s represents a slump. The presents have been opened, the Christmas decorations have to be stowed away, and the parties are over.
For me, that’s a relief. I’m glad when everyone is back in his/her place of business, and I don’t get all the “I’ll be out of my office until January 4” automatic responses. I like the bank and the post office being open at their regular hours. I’m happy when the “special issues” of my magazines and newspapers are back to their former schedule.
I don’t think I’m a Scrooge. Perhaps every year I get a little more used to my routine, and while I don’t mind a departure from it, a return to that schedule is more than welcome. It’s like putting on a favorite pair of jeans. You know it’s humdrum, but it suits you.
Besides, there are seasons coming up, and they’re fun to anticipate.
The upcoming season is awards season. Kicking off with the lackluster Peoples Choice awards, there’s a whole list of shows that support the fashion industry and boost television ratings; at least, that’s the hope in Hollywood. The Golden Globes, the Grammys, the Oscars . . . it’s that time of year. If you’re planning a party, dust off your finery, create some hors d’oeuvres, and sent out the invitations. Cheer for “True Blood” and Anna Paquin during the Golden Globes. And when the Emmys come around in the Fall, we’ll hope for long-overdue recognition for some of the other cast members.
It’s also just about softball season. Though we won’t make all our daughter’s games now that she’s playing for a college team and will travel farther, we’ll do our best to see some. Since she starts playing in February, the first month will see some cold bleachers and some shivering spectators.
(We’re not going to bring up tax season, because that makes me shiver with dread.)
The Christmas holidays are just the end of the cycles of one year, and there’s plenty to look forward to in this new one. Create your own season, if you have to! There’s always something to be excited about.
© 2010 Charlaine Harris