Amanda Gates
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A Musings - August 2010

I read Tana French’s first two books and really enjoyed them. Each book can be read separately from each other, but characters do overlap. Here’s the B&N; synopsis of Faithful Place:

Back in 1985, Frank Mackey was nineteen, growing up poor in Dublin's inner city, and living crammed into a small flat with his family on Faithful Place. But he had his sights set on a lot more. He and Rosie Daly were all ready to run away to London together, get married, get good jobs, break away from factory work and poverty and their old lives. But on the winter night when they were supposed to leave, Rosie didn't show. Frank took it for granted that she'd dumped him-probably because of his alcoholic father, nutcase mother, and generally dysfunctional family. He never went home again. Neither did Rosie. Everyone thought she had gone to England on her own and was over there living a shiny new life. Then, twenty-two years later, Rosie's suitcase shows up behind a fireplace in a derelict house on Faithful Place, and Frank is going home whether he likes it or not. Getting sucked in is a lot easier than getting out again. Frank finds himself straight back in the dark tangle of relationships he left behind. The cops working the case want him out of the way, in case loyalty to his family and community makes him a liability. Faithful Place wants him out because he's a detective now, and the Place has never liked cops. Frank just wants to find out what happened to Rosie Daly-and he's willing to do whatever it takes, to himself or anyone else, to get the job done.

I really liked Mackey as a character, and stories of people “going home again” can always be intriguing, especially when they don’t fit in all those years later. Mackey’s childhood has a real Angela’s Ashes feel to it, and as a reader you’re thankful he got out while he could. The mystery isn’t so mysterious; I pretty much had the outcome pegged early on. But, that doesn’t mean the story still isn’t interesting and entertaining. French can really create deep, flawed characters, and I like that about her. I also like the Dublin setting of all her books. While this one probably falls third, behind The Likeness and then In the Woods, it’s a close race among all three of her books. Classic mysteries with action, great detail, a little gore and main characters you can really root for.

Posted: Sat, 08/14/2010 - 05:15 |

Because I’m a fan of his, I wanted to read A.J. Jacob’s latest go round. I don’t know if other essay fans agree, but once you start reading someone frequently – like Sedaris, Orlean, etc. in places like The New Yorker, Esquire, etc. - and then they release their latest book of essays, you’ve already read a few. Same thing happened here. Because we used to get Esquire at home, I’d read a few of these essays previously. I did reread them here, but you do lose a bit of the excitement for the new book.

I’m jealous of Jacobs. He gets to work from home and think up crazy experiments to live for a week, a month, a year. Sure, it drives his wife (and soon his children) crazy, but the guy gets paid to be curious and screw around. Tough life.

My two favorite essays were when he outsourced his life to India, and when he spent a month being the perfect husband. In the first, he hired two sweethearts of assistants from India to do everything for him – shop, send his e-mails, organize his life, make his decisions. One even apologized to his wife for him and also sent his boss a disagreeing e-mail. Thing is? Both recipients were perfectly happy with their e-mails from A.J.’s assistants. She obviously handled things much better than he ever could. A truly funny essay.

To be the perfect husband, Jacobs decided to be less disagreeable to his wife’s requests, and also to be all-around more respectful to her. He also said he would do anything she asked and try to do all the chores. In her words, it was the best month of their marriage, and Jacobs actually agreed that they got along much better. He wasn’t snippy at her, he didn’t ask “why” or provide a snarky response to everything she said (in fact, he realized on like day two how often he did that and how that really was a jackass way to be). When she listed off the chores she does around the house, he fully admitted he had no idea how much she does. And, that he had no idea some of those things even qualified as chores – filling the soap dispensers, buying birthday cards, buying gifts, DVRing shows, paying bills, scheduling doctor appointments… Again, when he realized how much she did, and how little he contributed, he grew to respect her and their relationship a lot more. Grand experiment; I loved this chapter. I always thought in his other books that he gave his wife kind of a bad time.

So, fast, quick, funny read. However a touch repetitive, since I’d read a few already. But, I’m anxious to see what’s next from Jacobs. Again, what a life.

Posted: Sun, 08/01/2010 - 04:55 | Comments: 1