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After the Storm...

Books read during Hurricane Irene.

So. We had a hurricane. In Connecticut.

I moved over 1,300 miles, from South Florida to the shoreline of Connecticut... and got hit by a hurricane. I was without water and power for five days. It was interesting and definitely an eye opening experience (toilets use THAT much water???). 

Ironically, I had been visiting friends and family in South Florida and flew home two days before the storm was set to hit there... then it veered, and apparently followed me up the coast. Whoops - sorry 'bout that, CT.

While I was in Florida, I did get some reading done - more than I actually got done in the post-hurricane days (was too busy driving around charging my phone and looking for hot showers). I finished Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie and A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.

Murder on the Orient Express is the book we chose for the Shoreline Book Group - if you've read it or want to, feel free to join the group (on Facebook) and share your thoughts. I'm not a huge mystery reader, but I'm glad I finally read an Agatha Christie novel. I got through about half of it, then put it down to read Goon Squad. Once Goon Squad was done (sooo good!!), I picked Murder back up, and plowed through to the end.

I thought it was a gentle read, but I was a little jarred by the characterization of the Americans - the one American woman was portrayed as being completely obnoxious. There were some other stereotypes that were used - about how Italians are hot-headed and whose preferred method of murder is stabbing. That was perhaps a sign of the times, but I didn't really like it.

I also thought the ending was a little too simple and easy - maybe I'm just used to the complicated plots of today's thrillers. All in all, I'm glad I read it, but I doubt I'll be picking up another Christie novel anytime soon.

I did some digging on this Agatha Christie novel and found a literary criticism published in the 40s on the mystery novel in general by Raymond Chandler, a famous and prolific mystery writer. He ripped mystery novels and their writers apart, and had a mention about Ms. Christie and her detective Hercule Poirot. The entire article is interesting and worth checking out.

Chandler writes:

And there is a scheme of Agatha Christie’s featuring M. Hercule Poirot, that ingenius Belgian who talks in a literal translation of school-boy French, wherein, by duly messing around with his "little gray cells," M. Poirot decides that nobody on a certain through sleeper could have done the murder alone, therefore everybody did it together, breaking the process down into a series of simple operations, like assembling an egg-beater. This is the type that is guaranteed to knock the keenest mind for a loop. Only a halfwit could guess it.

For our Shoreline group, I've also suggested the A Visit from the Goon Squad as the next read. The book is captivating, well-written, and very imaginative. Each chapter is different - about a different person, in a different time and/or in a different style (one chapter is entirely told through a diary done in powerpoint slides). Each character is flawed and heroic - the author loves each character deeply, but is not afraid to show the darker sides. I cried through the last three chapters, just because the entire book was so moving to me - it's not necessarily sad, but the idea of the passage of time and the things you lose (and gain) along the way - that gets me every time.

Maybe I'm feeling just feeling sentimental right now, but this book got to me. It's all about time: how time affects people, or doesn't; how, over time, we go in and out of each other's lives, either directly or indirectly... it's also about people, how they relate to each other; how they affect each other (or don't); how we're all connected, and how little moments can drastically change lives.

I'm definitely going to check out more of Egan's works - I really like her writing style, her choices of words and the way she represents her character. Yay for a new author to read!

Did anyone get any reading done while the lights were out? Before or after? Has your interest in survival/disaster books been piqued (the night following the storm, I was in bed thinking about Cormac McCarthy's The Road, wondering what I would do if the power never came back on)?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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