Posted by: mollyscafeistanbul | December 4, 2010

molly’s cafe book reports: mcsweeney’s 15 and summer people

well, my selection of books continues.  at home i have just started the first harry potter!  i will not review it, except to say that when i was a kid in canada, i read a lot of british children’s fiction and harry potter seems to me to be in that same genre, except a little more modern.  of course americans and many canadians were not familiar with the genre and so harry potter seemed to be something new to them.  the story is entertaining and i can see why people have enjoyed it, but i think the whole harry potter thing is overrated.

ok, the books i want to talk about today are these: summer people by marge piercy and mcsweeney’s 15, edited by dave eggars.

first, marge piercy was quite in fashion in the 70s and 80s.  i looked at wiki and saw that she is still alive and still writing, but her ‘famous’ peak seemed to be then.  summer people is about a composer who lives next to a couple with whom she had been involved for 10 years. they all live on cape cod.  other characters include the son of the couple who returns after splitting from his wife, comes on to dinah, the composer, and ends up having an affair with the neighbour’s daughter, laurie.  susan, the wife of the couple, who basically caused the three-way break-up, is taken with laurie’s father, a rich new yorker who has a summer place next to theirs.  dinah takes up with a musician who plays her work.  it all seems rather complicated and somewhat incestuous.  most of all it seems rather dated.  i enjoyed the story, but i don’t think it is particularly eternal.  i am sure the lesbian part was daring at the time.  it’s kind of funny to read a story that was probably shocking 30 years ago…

the other book, mscweeney’s 15, published in 2004, is a collection of short stories and excerpts from novels. the first part includes some rather quirky stories.  for example, the first story is written seriously as if it is reporting on a real artist, but as you read, you think that can’t possibly be true.  can it?  the last  part is by icelandic authors.   i was glad that there was an introduction to give some background, as i don’t think i had ever read anything by icelandic authors before, since my icelandic is not very good, ha ha.  some of those stories were rather disturbing, such as the little boy who harboured and sometimes acted on rather violent thoughts.  one story was about how people were disturbed by the waves from cell phones (we hear about this all the time), but a secret company looked at how birds were able to communicate in order to migrate and move as flocks, so they tapped into that and people were able to do the same– and then became sort of advertisers.  most of the stories in this book were quite original and for that reason i really enjoyed the book.

the piercy book was so so, but i highly recommend the mcsweeney book.  both in the cafe now!


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