27 July 2006

Wednesday on Thursday: Reading for Pleasure

My traditional Wednesday blogging activity is the ever-fabulous whining at Phantom's, but Dr. Crazy has proposed another Wednesday activity: posting about pleasure reading. I'm a day late, but here goes.

What I'm reading right now, re-reading, actually, is vol. 1 of the Tales of the City series, Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. It's perfect pleasure reading, as far as I'm concerned: short chapters, memorable, funny, likeable characters (a good mix of gay and straight, men and women, weird and no-so-weird, rich and not rich, etc.), and a madcap sensibility. I'm not much for madcap in real life, but I do like it in a novel. The series, set in San Fransisco, started in 1978, so it's pre-AIDS, and parts of it are a bit dated now. But it's still funny and engaging and it's been just the thing this week when I've been in a bit of a funk.

I just finished a spate of mystery reading, too. We were in Baltimore a few weeks ago and I stopped by Mystery Loves Company, the mystery bookstore in Fells Point. I got the most recent Lippman (By a Spider's Thread, which deals with some of the elements of Tess Monaghan's Jewish side. It's a pretty good plot, although it cops out at the end in terms of not resolving the odd tensions Lippman suddenly introduced into the series with Tess and Crow, her boyfriend. The previous Tess Monaghan novel (The Last Place took a decidedly creepy turn, with a stalker-antagonist, and I was glad that this book got the series back on its usual footing.

The staff also recommended some other Maryland authors, my favorite of whom turned out to be Sujata Massey. I got The Salaryman's Wife, which opens thus:
I suppose there are worse places to spend New Years Eve than a crowded train with a stranger's hand inching up your thigh. A crowded train undergoing a nerve gas attack? That could mean true death instead of just an emotional one. I tried to be mature about it. After all, I'd almost convinced myself that what had been pressing against me since we'd left Nagano was somebody's suitcase handle.
That first sentence grabbed me in the bookstore, and I enjoyed reading a mystery set in Japan. The murder takes place in a traditional Japanese inn over New Year, and the Japanese/American amateur detective ends up exploring both her own mixed heritage and Japanese culture through the course of the book. New Kid might really like this one, as it combines elements of romance with mystery; she mentions both genres in her post.

I also read mysteries by two other Maryland authors: Marcia Talley and Dana Andrews, but as I didn't enjoy those as much as the Massey I won't say much about them, other than to say if you want a cozy mystery with an OK plot and OK writing to while away a plane ride or beach afternoon, they're OK. Just OK.

And now, back to Tales of the City.


Arwen said...

I just read "Like Water for Chocolate" again. Mmm.

Arwen said...

Oh, and it's good to know there are other mystery buffs out there! Especially in the land of people who know a thing or two about a thing or two.
I just read a few Japanese mysteries, one of which I really enjoyed, but I am currently lying under a few glasses of wine and so can't remember the author's names or titles...

peripateticpolarbear said...

Huge mystery buff, here, too. Just finished a bunch of them. Heading out for more on Sunday....I'll keep these in mind!