Monday, July 24, 2017

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

Prodigal SummerProdigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Prodigal Summer didn't hook me at first, but in the end I thought it was another five star read for Barbara Kingsolver. After three chapters, I began to wonder if this was a collection of short stories rather than a novel. The three subplots were disconnected and seemed to reach conclusions rather than push me forward. Also, it took a while for the personalities of the characters to come through, so at first I thought Kingsolver was more concerned with getting a message across about animal behavior than about human behavior. As I read on, I realized that in addition to fascinating facts about luna moths and coyotes, this novel shows the need for human relationships, among old, young, neighbors, in-laws, and all sorts of other people.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul, White Horse Regressions, and Hopatcong Vision Quest

View all my reviews

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

The Maltese FalconThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The classic hard-boiled detective novel, The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, was one of the earliest books in that genre. The main character seems cliche at times, but only because so many imitations have followed. According to Wikipedia: “Raymond Chandler's character Philip Marlowe...was strongly influenced by Hammett's Spade.” There are many lesser known examples as well.

The main women in the story, Ruth Wonderly, Effie Perine, and Iva Archer, are all drawn to Spade's tough personality, but each in her own way. They are clearly from decades past, but they are fully developed, interesting characters. The same is true of the men, although I thought Kasper Gutman (the fat man) was a little weaker than the others. There were some implausible aspects to the plot, but everything came together in the end.

I listened to the audio while on a trip with my wife and daughter. The book was narrated by William Dufris and I was impressed by his reading. He was influenced by the film and did a wonderful Peter Lorre imitation while keeping true to all the other characters as well. It's a great book to listen to while driving.

Steve Lindahl – author of Hopatcong Vision Quest, White Horse Regressions, and Motherless Soul

View all my reviews