SarahMichigan (sarahmichigan) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books #23-24

Book #23 was "Memoirs of a Survivor" by Doris Lessing. This is sometimes referred to as "feminist science fiction." I'd call it speculative fiction, or near-future dystopia, or maybe a mashup of fantasy and spec fic. The story takes place in near-future England, where society is slowly collapsing, gangs of violent young people move through the streets and the availability of running water and electricity is spotty. During this time, the main character opens the door to find a man delivering a 12-year-old girl, Emily, and her pet (a cat-like dog or a dog-like cat named Hugo) and telling the main character the girl is her responsibility now. As she tries to keep her little created family safe during the chaos, she sometimes drifts off into reveries where she can pass, like a ghost, through the walls of her apartment and into another reality where she sees many disjointed scenes, some of them of Emily's past. The book is thoroughly strange and definitely has the feel of a dream, though with a little bit more of a plot than most dreams have. I wasn't sure what to make of it for the first 15 or 20 pages but I ended up getting sucked in and really liking it. I'd like to read more by Lessing.

Book #24 was "Moral Disorder," a collection of inter-related short stories by Margaret Atwood, in audiobook form. This is another book where it's hard to know what to say, because I felt it was flawed but there were a lot of things I liked about it. Atwood's prose is marvelous, as usual, but most of the stories have very little in the way of plot, though most of them have a dramatic tension to them that keeps you reading (or listening, in my case). All the stories relate to the same family, which is pretty obviously modeled at least a little on Atwood's own family, over the course of the main character Nell's childhood into old age. My favorite story was "White Horse," and in general, I really liked the stories where animals or nature played a role. My next favorite was probably "Entitites," as that one actually did feel like a complete short story and not just a slice of life. I'd only recommend this collection to hard-core Atwood fans, but if you're new to her as an author, start with something else like "A Handmaid's Tale" or "Oryx and Crake."

1. The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood [non-fiction]- James Gleick
2. Stones from the River [fiction]- Ursula Hegi
3. The Penelopiad [fiction]- Margaret Atwood
4. Woman Warrior [non-fiction/memoir]- Maxine Hong Kingston
5. The Son of Neptune [ficiton]- Rick Riordan (unabridged audiobook)
6. The Poe Shadow [fiction]- Matthew Pearl
7. Nat Turner [non-fiction graphic "novel"]- Kyle Baker (illustrator)
8. Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception [fiction]- Eoin Colfer (unabridged audiobook)
9. The Daughter of Time [fiction]- Josephine Tey
10. Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) [non-fiction/biography]- Stacy Schiff
11. Gilgamesh: A New English Version [literary criticism/epic poetry]- Stephen Mitchell
12. Back When We Were Grownups [fiction]- Anne Tyler
13. Red Azalea [non-fiction/memoir]- Anchee Min
14. The Mark of Athena (#3 in the "Heroes of Olympus" series) [fiction]- Rick Riordan (unabridged audiobook)
15. The Mosquito Coast [fiction]- Paul Theroux
16. The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl: How Two Brave Scientists Battled Typhus and Sabotaged the Nazis [non-fiction]- Arthur Allen
17. The City of Devi [fiction]- Manil Suri
18. The Lovely Bones [fiction]- Alice Sebold (unabridged audiobook)
19. The Office of Mercy [fiction]- Ariel Djanikian (unabridged audiobook)
20. A Thousand Acres [fiction]- Jane Smiley
21. The Snow Queen [fiction]- Joan Vinge
22. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian [fiction]- Sherman Alexie

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