Before leaving for my European vacation I contemplated what books to take along to read during the long train trips between spots and before I shut my eyes each night. I settled upon three short story collections reasoning that short stories would be consumable in small time slots and if I didn't like one of the stories I could always skip to the next without having to ditch the whole book. What I didn't take into consideration was the nature of the short story collections I chose, dark and depressing. I read all three books, only skipping a few stories along the way, but wished I had picked something more lighthearted and fun.
Vintage Munro by Alice Munro. This collection of short stories were selected from throughout her career. Many of the stories had a timeless or old-fashioned feel to them and then I would be shocked when a car or a phone were mentioned because I was picturing the time period much earlier than even those inventions. All the stories were superbly written but most had a very depressing theme: orphans, love-lost, death. I selected this collection because I wanted to read something by Munro since she won the Pulitzer Prize last year for her collective work in this medium. This book seemed like a good place to start.
Most hotels where we stayed in Italy and Switzerland had a bookshelf where guests can leave a book they have finished and pick up another to start. One never knows what they will find in the language they can read. I left this book on the lending library shelf at our hotel in Sorrento, Italy.
Speaking with the Angel edited by Nick Hornby. This short story collection held selections from several well-known UK authors. Published in 2000, most of the stories felt a bit out of time. It is surprising how much has happened in the world of technology in the last fifteen years. Many were quirky, with "Nipple Jesus" topping that list, others were about sex or just funny. Most had at least one pathetic character. My favorite story, "The Department of Nothing" was written by the actor, Colin Firth. I didn't know that he was a writer, too.
I originally picked this book up several years ago at a grocery store that was selling used books for some fund-raiser and I paid a dollar for it. I liked several of the contributing authors' works and was intrigued to read their short stories. I left this book in the lending library in our hotel in Siena, Italy. While perusing that shelf I found and picked up, Looking for Alaska, which both my daughter and I read later in the trip.
Close Range by Annie Proulx. All stories set in her beloved Wyoming, Proulx is fabulous writer but all of the stories were about sad or pathetic characters, mostly cowboys or ranchers. Of the three books I thought that Proulx was the best writer even if I couldn't relate to her characters for the most part. I could see, taste, feel what she was describing. "Brokeback Mountain" was the most famous story in this collection, as you know, it was made into a motion picture several years ago.
My husband gave me this book years ago for Christmas because i was such a huge fan of her book, Shipping News. It has languished on the shelf ever since because I never made the time to read it until now. I passed this book off to my husband who was raised in cattle country in Eastern Oregon. He started it before the trip home but i suspect it will be hanging around the house for a few more years before he finishes it.
30 books this Summer Reading Challenge
3 / 30 books. 10% done!