Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Almost Moon

As I said in my last post I enjoyed Alice Sebold's first novel, The Lovely Bones (except for that strange part at the end and I see I'm not alone there). Despite the odd ending, I considered it a book I might re-read at some point.

I don't like to give away plot points, but I think by telling you The Almost Moon is about a woman who kills her mother I've given nothing away. This fact is made clear in the first line and the rest of the book details this daughter's actions and thoughts over the next 24 hours, as well as a look back at her dysfunctional family and childhood.

I like Sebold's writing, I think she tells a good tale. But the tale itself? Mmmmmmm, well, I was not a fan. I like sad books, depressing books, books that show the negative side of human nature. But this was somehow different. Perhaps because all our families are a little bit dysfunctional or odd behind closed doors, perhaps because at some point most of us will deal with an aged, or ill parent, perhaps it hits too close to home but it all serves to make this an uncomfortable read. The first few chapters are so intense I wouldn't be surprised if casual readers don't make it past them. I do like the cover of this book - an almost blinding red - it is intense and harsh, just like the words it holds within. The characters in this book are highly unlikable - I found I couldn't identify with them or their choices, particularly the main character, Helen.

I am sure The Almost Moon will be purchased and read by the thousands, thus my opinion won't hurt it's success at all. I'll certainly be interested to see what others think of this book. To tell you the truth, I don't think I can say 'I'm glad I read it' but I don't think I could have helped myself.

On a brighter note, I posted a while back about some cookbook releases I was looking forward to. I've been fortunate enough to borrow some of these from the library and thought I'd share one I've particularly enjoyed browsing, The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without by Mollie Katzen. This is a slim book, only around 160 pages containing just under 100 recipes. The book is beautifully produced with a colorful cover and the hand written text and drawings within are done by Katzen. I have tagged so many recipes in it, I think this may have to go on my Christmas list. The recipes are interesting and unique without being fussy or calling for too many ingredients. Here are some of the wonderful sounding recipes:

Artichoke heart and spinach gratin
Tarragon pecan asparagus
Braised Brussels sprouts in maple mustard sauce
Southwest summer corn hash
Mushroom stuffed mushrooms with wild rice and goat cheese

And many more! I think this would be a great book for a vegetarian or really anyone looking for interesting vegetable recipes as a side dish.

Incidentally, my Bookclub met on Thursday evening to discuss Water for Elephants and it was universally loved by all. We found ourselves discussing our own lives a bit more than the book, but it was a good meeting and a rarity since we hardly ever all agree on books.


Eva said...

That cookbook sounds great!

Nan said...

Not ever would read this. And though a book like this may help someone living through a similar situation, I feel that for the rest of us it just brings negative energy into our lives. Boy, don't I sound opinionated? :<)

I do like MK books though.

Iliana said...

I don't know if I'll read this or not... Like you, I don't mind sad books but if you can't even get onboard with any of the characters than that makes it a bit more difficult. Maybe I'll just check it out at the library and see if the first pages grab me or not. By the way, did you know that The Lovely Bones was being made into a movie? I am a bit curious to see it.

BooksPlease said...

Like you I read sad books, but I don't think I could handle The Almost Moon. Newbooks magazine had a little pamphlet with the first chapter in it, which I started to read and just couldn't finish. As Nan said too much negative energy and I can do without that.

I did like The Lovely Bones, though.

Literary Feline said...

Thank you for the review of Almost Moon! I'm collecting opinions. :-) I do plan to read it. I can't help myself. I think going in knowing none of the character are not likable will make it easier for me. I am drawn to sad and angry books and this one sounds like it has enough of both to last awhile.

Tara said...

Eva, yes, it looks like one worth owning!

Nan, that's EXACTLY what I thought you would say. It's definitely not your kind of book, if you don't mind my saying.

Bookgirl, the library is a good idea - that's where my copy came from. I'm glad I didn't buy it. Yes, I did see that TLb is being made into a movie! I'll probably see it at some point.

Booksplease, I'm not surprised you didn't finish the first's really intense and unpleasant.

Literary Feline, you're welcome, I'll be looking for other opinions as well, perhaps I'll be in the minority. I would have read it too, despite what the word of mouth was - I was quite interested to see what Sebold had come up with.

nutmeg said...

See? This is what I should do before I rush out and buy some books!!! Read the bloggers! As a minimum I should have read more than the first page - sounds like the FIRST chapter was the real test. Oh well - it will probably languish in the tbr pile now - no sweat - so many others to read :-) Thanks for your review Tara.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Tara

Thank you for the review, I was very curious about the book.

I've heard that the opening line of "The Almost Moon" is one that will shock the reader. But does it have the power to keep the reader fully invested in the rest of the book? I'm not sure I will read this, I don't fancy the premise, also, I have been reading quite a few sad books lately, it's time for me to lighten up! :)

Lotus Reads said...

p.s. You're right, the cover is really, really striking...all that red make me want to cover my eyes, but it seems very fitting for the story contained within.

Tara said...

Nutmeg, yes, I'm so glad this was borrowed from the library and I didn't purchase it! Hopefully, you'll read it at some point and tell us what you think.

Hi Lotus, I was very curious about this book as well, and wanted to read it before I'd formed an opinion of it. I think the first line and the rest of the first chapter are compelling in that you want to find out what the character is going to do next. That is really the reason I finished the book - to find that out. However the path she takes is an odd and disturbing one.

LisaMM said...

I'm really glad I read your review. I liked TLB (and I didn't know the movie was coming out). I also liked Lucky, Sebold's memoir about her rape. I probably would have purchased this, but instead I think I will check it out at the library. You've saved me some money, thank you!

StuckInABook said...

That recipe book sounds brilliant - I'm vegetarian, and my mouth is watering at those recipes. Is it published in England?

Wasn't very impressed by The Lovely Bones - not unimpressed, just not as bowled over as everyone else seemed to be - and have no intention of reading The Almost Moon. That cover is much better than the grey one I've seen over here, though.

Tara said...

Hi Lisamm, thanks for stopping by! You are welcome, I am also glad I didn't purchase this.

Simon, it looks like amazon UK is selling the Vegetable cookbook but it takes a couple of weeks so it must be the US edition you'd receive. Mollie Katzen is considered a pioneer of vegetarian cooking here, so I wouldn't be surprised if there was a UK edition at some point. However, the recipes are such that I don't think the difference between US/UK measurements would make much of a difference (as it would in a baking cookbook).

Bybee said...

I saw The Almost Moon today at the bookstore. In paperback. I thought this was a new book?

Tara said...

Bybee, you're right The Almost Moon is a new release... the US does seem to have a specific way of determining what becomes a hardcover, and when the paperback release date can be. Other countries don't seem to have the same system. I realized this when I traveled to London in 2001 and saw Anita Sheve's yet to be released book in the US on the bestseller list there - in paperback. So, I'm not sure why that just seems to be the case.