Author: Aimee Bender, 2010.
Genre: Coming of Age. Magical Realism/Surrealist.
Other Details: Paperback. 324 pages.
On the eve of her ninth birthday, Rose Edelstein bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother's emotions in the slice. All at once her cheerful, can-do mother tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes perilous. Anything can be revealed at any meal. Rose's gift forces her to confront the truth behind her family's emotions - her mother's sadness, her father's detachment and her brother's clash with the world. But as Rose grows up, she learns that there are some secrets even her taste buds cannot discern. - synopsis from publisher's website.
An odd little coming of age story that I enjoyed but didn't feel particularly caught up in. I feel this may have been because I felt little connection with Rose and her family and while I usually enjoy surreal touches, her brother's situation especially fell flat for me. Maybe it was because so much of the narrative was rooted in apparent reality to allow me to accept the novel's more fantastic aspects including Rose's gift.
This was a library reading group selection and while the group had all enjoyed last month's When God was a Rabbit, which certainly had moments of magical realism, in this case group members were either like myself somewhat 'meh' about it, or didn't care for it at all. Perhaps it was the timing of two coming-of-age novels one after the other with a central brother-sister relationship. This one suffered in comparison to the strong themes of Rabbit.
Author: Stephen King, 1977.
Genre: Horror. Ghosts.
Other Details: Unabridged audiobook. (15 hrs, 54 mins) Read by Campbell Scott.
Jack Torrance, a frustrated writer battling his inner demons including a alcoholism and a violent temper, is in urgent need of employment. He takes a position of off-season caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies. His wife, Wendy, and his five-year-old son, Danny, who has psychic gifts, accompany him. However, The Overlook has a troubled past and as the winter closes in the hotel begins to come alive in horrific ways.
In advance of the sequel Doctor Sleep being published and as it had been so many years since I read The Shining, I decided to revisit it via the recent audio edition. I was pleasantly surprised how much of the story I remembered and yet how disturbing it still was. Certainly a modern horror classic that still has the power to chill.