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Posts Tagged ‘J.K. Rowling’

biglittleYikes! I’ve been gone a month. Wish I could say I’d been to Fillory via Lev Grossman’s The Magician’s Land, but that enchanted journey still awaits. But, as in Fillory, time has passed differently for me ever since I had surgery four weeks ago. Either the anesthesia’s lingering effects have played havoc with my mind and/or it’s triggered lupus brain fog. I’m having trouble remembering both what I read before the surgery and the few books I’ve managed since then. Can’t seem to concentrate, or maybe I’ve just overdosed on middle-of-the-night reruns of Frasier.   “maybe I seem a bit confused . . . Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs!”

But it’s still summer, and the wave of books continues, more than enough to carry us into fall. Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies (Putnam, digital galley) is clever escapist entertainment, constructed like a good jigsaw puzzle. Readers know from the outset that Something Terrible happened at Piriwee elementary school’s annual fundraiser. But who fell off a balcony? And  is it an accident, suicide, murder?! Moriarty takes us back six months to detail the actions of several of the school’s mothers and their assorted partners and offspring. As secrets big and little come to light, they illuminate issues of bullying, domestic abuse, snobbery and violence. It’s all good dark fun.

silkworm“Fun” is not the word to describe J.K. Rowling’s The Silkworm (Little, Brown, purchased e-book), her second Comoran Strike detective novel under the Robert Galbraith pseudonym. I read and reviewed the first one, The Cuckoo’s Calling, without knowing it was Rowling’s work, and quite enjoyed it. This time, I recognized her fingerprints — the odd names, the many literary allusions, the grotesque touches to the crime scene.  Strike and his assistant Robin make for an appealing pair; he is large and grouchy and damaged, while she is pretty, eager and engaged to someone else. Investigating the murder of a pompous author trussed and gutted like a pig, they discover motives aplenty in the back-stabbing literary world. The plot is complicated enough that I’m happy I read it before my brain got so muddled. I might need to read it again as I didn’t see the killer coming. Then again, neither did Strike until almost too late.

latescholarHave you ever wished there were more books by your favorite dead author? Jill Paton Walsh has continued the investigative adventures of Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane in a stylish, pitch-perfect series. The fourth entry, The Late Scholar (St. Martin’s Press, digital galley), finds Lord Peter, now the Duke of Denver, and his novelist wife returning to Oxford, which, in Sayers’ Gaudy Night, played such an important part in their lives.  So a certain nostalgia suffuses the leisurely tale as the couple meet up with old friends while trying to resolve the problem of the missing warden of St. Severin’s College, whose members are divided over the proposed sale of an ancient manuscript with ties to King Alfred. More than one visit to the Bodleian library and Blackwell’s bookstore are in order, as are apropos references to professors J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I think Sayers would approve.

lucykyteI’m not so sure how the very private Josephine Tey would feel about Nicola Upson’s series in which Tey herself turns detective, but these traditional British mysteries offer complex plots and vivid 1930s period detail. The fifth, The Death of Lucy Kyte (HarperCollins, digital galley), is set in the Suffolk countryside, where Tey has inherited a rundown cottage from her actress godmother, Hester Larkspur. Red Barn Cottage comes complete with a  nearby notorious murder, a possible ghost and Hester’s papers, which may well reveal more secrets about the author’s life and mysterious death. Speaking of mysterious, who is Lucy Kyte, who is also named in Hester’s will, and where on earth is she?

 

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Before I forget, I want to thank everyone who responded to the last post, “Mother, may I read this book?,” about the Central Florida mother who wanted to keep public library copies of the Gossip Girl books and spin-offs out of the hands of minors. Many of you thanked your own mothers for giving you the freedom to read and make up your own mind. Others suggested that sitting down and discussing the books might have been a more productive act than “stealing” them. One reader noted that she’s against banning books but did think Gossip Girl was pretty trashy.

And that reminded me that I should have given a shout-out to Judy Blume, the best-selling author of teen and tween books and also one of the most censored authors in the United States. In the 1980s and ’90s, such Blume books as Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret and Forever… were among the most frequently challenged books in schools and public libraries. Then came J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter books, and the censors went wild over Harry in a bad way. Blume was one of the first to step up and speak out on behalf of Rowling and against censorship.

I remember writing about her speech to booksellers at their annual convention ten years ago. She noted that if kids didn’t love Harry Potter so much, the censors wouldn’t be out in such force. “It’s because they are so popular that there’s this idea there’s evil lurking in them,” she said, adding that this notion comes from “adults who want to control everything in kids’ lives,” especially what they read.

The book banners were againt Harry Potter because of its scenes of witchcraft and wizardry, moments of violence and “disrespect for authority,” as one censor stated. They went after Blume”s books  because she wrote candidly about having periods, growing breasts, making out and, in Forever…, going all the way. Sex!

That’s why some adults called Blume’s books “trashy.” But one parent also challenged Superfudge because a character said there wasn’t a Santa Claus. Any book can become a target for censors, and Blume added that no matter what you say, there are going to be people who will never change their minds.

“I tell them,   ‘This might not be the right book for your child, but it may be just the right one for another.’ ”

You said it, Judy. Thank you. And thanks for writing all those great books. I still read them. I guess the mom against Gossip Girl missed out.

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