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Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Circle of Souls

Grandhi, Preetham. A Circle of Souls. Dr. Grandhi is the chief of service for House 5 at Bronx Children's Psychiatric Center and also has a private practice. The book was sent to me by the author, who sent dozens of books to bloggers.

I liked the premise of the story: a young girl's dreams appear to have her in contact with another young girl who had been murdered recently.

The chapters are very short and switch back and forth between FBI Agent Leia Bines, investigating the murder of young Janet Troy, and Dr. Peter Gram, who searches for a way help seven-year-old Naya Hastings recover from her violent nightmares. Eventually, of course, the two story lines merge.

While I frequently enjoy short chapters, I found these chapters choppy, abrupt, and not always productive in either moving the story line forward or in really developing the characters.

The characters never fully materialized for me, seeming one-dimensional for the most part, and the dialogue was often a bit stiff. For a number of reasons, the plot didn't hang together for me either, even though I love the use of the supernatural and dream influence in novels.

All seemed a bit over-simplified, without the requisite layers a novel of psychological suspense requires. I want to be able to enter into the "spirit" of things--and couldn't quite do that with this novel.

It is, however, a debut novel and the author has a rich mine of experience to draw upon as a result of his day job, so maybe practice (and reading something like The Thirteenth Tale) will hone his fiction.

And, uh, once again, I appear to be the only naysayer, so (as usual) take my review with a grain of salt and check the book out for yourself!

Fiction. Mystery/Supernatural/Psychological. 2009. 339 pages.

The Last Days of the Lacuna Cabal

Dixon, Sean. The Last Days of the Lacuna Cabal. A very strange little book! Initially written as a play, the author remarks that the actors in the original play left their mark when he transformed the play into a book.

Here is what induced me to begin reading:

(Let's start with the epitaph.)

(Oh no. Categorically no. This should become well established as an adventure story before anybody ever dies and anything ever changes.)

(But its a beautiful quote!)

(You mean epigraph.)

(Yes, let's begin with the epigraph. And don't tell anyone I made that mistake.)

(It's called a malapropism.)

(I know!)

(And by the epigraph, are you suggesting the quote by Ezra Pound.?)


(Who, I might point out, is a man?)


(Not to mention a damned fascist?)

(Don't you like the quote?)

(I like the quote very much. I love the quote.)

(Yes, just like that. That's the perfect epitaph.)

And then...things get really strange. The book is just weird -- full of odd ball characters and a fantastic (as in outrageous, bewildering, chimerical, freakish, implausible) plot.

Stir together a young woman's book club in Montreal, the Epic of Gilgamesh, Iraq, myth, and bildungsroman and what have you got? The Last Days of the Lacuna Cabal.

I liked it. There are flaws that brought me up short at times, but...I liked it. I can't categorize it and find it impossible to explain. This book is not for everyone, but I hope to hear more from this author.

Fiction. 2009. 292 pages.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Keep Calm and Carry On

I've been busy with quite a few things lately. Laddie fell out of bed at the nursing home, Fee had to have a heart cath, computer problems, etc. (all detailed here on my other blog).

Have several books to review. Hate getting so far behind, but I'm behind on everything now-- reviewing, email, blogging, laundry, grocery shopping, bookkeeping, house cleaning, yoga, meditation...

Now that I have the computer working more efficiently, hope to catch up with my reviews soon.

One thing at a time, however, and now for the grocery list!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Only 2 More Days

Ha! How do these damn books know what is going on in our lives and somehow manage to wiggle their way in?

Two books in progess that I've had so little time for (the Bhagavad Gita and The Last Days of the Lacuna Cabal), but I finished my teaching practicum yesterday and the exam today, and I wanted to indulge myself since I have nothing due tomorrow. The Bhagavad Gita is yogic philosophical discourse, Lacuna Cabal is a modern novel about a book club in Montreal recreating The Epic of Gilgamesh, both have connections to the study of yoga, although I didn't realize it with Lacuna Cabal when I started it.

I read a little more of Lacuna Cabal when I got back to the room, but then an hour or so ago, on a whim, I put it down and picked up Hot House Flowers and the 9 Plants of Desire. The jacket said something about plants (which I love), mystery (ditto), and adventure (yes). On page 46, a friend of the main character tells her to take up yoga, that it will relax her more than alprazolam:

"Yoga nidra, the yoga of sleep. Pranayama, control of the breath. Hatha yoga, O gentle yoga of service."

"O nutjob, what the hell is the yoga of sleep?"

"It's when you practice staying awake in your sleep so that your mind is awake while your body is sleeping."

I went to 2 Hatha yoga classes on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. Decided to try Yoga Nidra on the very last class. Wow! What an experience. We've been learning and practicing various pranayama (breath control) techniques since we got here, along with mantras, mudras, and asanas. There are only about 2 sentences in the manual about Yoga Nidra, but our teacher advised us to try it, so on Sunday I did. I could learn to love that experience!

Tonight, I begin a new novel, and although the novel is not at all about yoga (plants, a mystery, and adventure), it is another interesting coincidence. I truly cannot seem to escape from this summer's yoga theme.

I'm yoga-ed out, and it just keeps coming.

A glass of wine and a shower, and then to bed.