Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage is a memoir that’s really a reflection about time and is full of wonderfully observed details. How minute body language changes tells her that her husband is rattled by a surprise encounter, how her aunt’s china symbolizes her happy engagement, how successful people may have amassed truly awful report cards, how we can wonder about a path not taken. It will make you wonder about your own choices.
Tag Archives: marriage
Something to Hide is an utterly unpretentious and fun story of four women whose fates are shown to intertwine after many twists and many secrets (most from one woman to the other). I was concerned at first that the four far-flung locations would be exploited with heavy descriptions of travel and local attractions, but they end up fitting completely into the story and giving it the mysteries it needs. Yes, it’s a madcap pace but the emotions of the women are real and well-rendered.
Perhaps I should have expected that a book with the cutest title of As Long As We Both Shall Eat: A History of Wedding Food and Feasts would not be the next organized book around. And indeed, it bulges with all kinds of stories and anecdotes, most related to weddings, but many not, vaguely categorized in chapters that themselves meander quite a bit. We do read eclectic facts such as charging for wedding beer in 17th century England, bride to be force-feeding in Western Africa, and rules for Disneyland weddings (no”non-matching” characters allowed).
Want a little melancholy with your summer? Try The Other Side of the World, in which an overwhelmed mother follows her husband from England to Perth, Australia — where she finds that she is just as overwhelmed and frustrated by not being able to find time for her art. Her husband, meanwhile, finds that racism (he is part Indian) may be fiercer than back home. The story perfectly the feeling of utter exhaustion of raising small children along with the isolation of emigration, and is full of well-observed details about little kids.
Did you like The Martian? (I loved it, and I am puzzled that I never bothered to write a proper review for it.) Then you will also like Spaceman of Bohemia, which contains no geeky science and no superhuman feats of survival, but the same kind of lonely astronaut fighting for survival. In Jakub’s case, there is a complicated family story in post-Velvet Revolution Czech Republic, as a failing marriage to worry about. The narrative gets snarled here and there but there is plenty of humor and humanity to make it a completely enjoyable story.
Arthur Pepper of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a bereaved widower who finds an unfamiliar bracelet in his deceased wife’s belongings and sets out to understand how she could have come to own it. In the process, he uncovers years of her life he knew nothing about, along with a new zest of life. It could be as uplifting as the 100-Year Old Man Who Jumped Through the Window but it seems forced to me, and very sad since I figure that Arthur would feel betrayed that his wife never mentioned any of her pre-marriage adventures to him, while holding on to the bracelet that obviously meant something to her.
It’s hard to describe the story in Willnot, because it’s not so much a crime story (there are many corpses, or rather skeletons) but more the description of a couple, a small-town physician and his partner, a teacher (they are both men), who together may be the most inspiring literary couple I encountered this year. If you are looking for a good police investigation, you can find it elsewhere, but for a thoughtful, perfectly described domestic story, read this.