Recently, I finished Ripper by Isabel Allende. This tale takes place in San Francisco and Berkeley.
I love her array of work, as you well know if you have ever read any of my reviews, but to have the setting where my children reside brings a note of specialness to the whole act of reading her descriptions.
This is a new genre for Allende. Her husband apparently is a mystery writer. They attempted to write a whodunit together and nearly divorced, so Isabel did what she nearly always does and hid away for a few months and produced this contemporary novel. She did refer and defer to her sleuth husband for expert advice here and there but no collaboration on the plot and so forth.
It was an entertaining read but not something I couldn’t put down. Generally, writing in the third person does not draw me in like first person. It is not one of her historical novels. I was ambivalent about some of her (albeit well developed) characters. The reveal was slow and steady as we learned more as the protagonists uncovered more clues.
Leading the reader to believe different conclusions is always risky and a bit contrived but as usual, I loved every minute of Allende’s well turned phrases and profound messages inscribed inside her tale.
Meanwhile, I have picked up Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan just to get a different lyrical feel on the fantasy/whodunit/extraordinary writer scene. I believe Amy Tan will become my new and fast friend at my bedside. Of course, like everyone else I read her first book, The Joy Luck Club, back in the early 90’s after the movie came out. And then I missed a lot during that time while having and raising little children so I am catching up on my old writing friends.
Written in 2005, Saving Fish, her sixth book out of ten, I have plenty of Amy Tan to peruse. It is basically about a recently murdered San Francisco antiques dealer/socialite who in spirit form travels with her twelve friends as they decide to continue with their plans to visit China and Burma, which she had organized.
Now, here is a book and topic I wholeheartedly decided I would not care to read yet I am engrossed in it and carry it around with me everywhere.
Meanwhile, I am reading a book I picked off the shelf in NYC that I am finally ready to own called Writing Down the Bones, Feeling the Writer Within (1986) by Natalie Goldberg. It is an excellent and short chaptered, concise and informative kind of read a writer needs at her side like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Writing Down is Natalie’s first book out of ten, so again, I have much to do plus there are a myriad of ideas to explore amongst her Zen induced instruction.
Also, beyond my daily morning meditation reads from several authors, early morning journaling and mantra mala practice, I am always reading a book on meditation/yoga/spirituality while reading my nonfiction and fiction to balance me out and I am in the middle of Stephen Levine’s, A Gradual Awakening (1979). I pulled this book off my own shelf waiting for the ripe time and I guess that is now because it makes twenty times more sense to me now than when I wasn’t attending a Tao meditation every Wednesday night. Amongst his essays he scatters written scripts for guided Vipassana (loving kindness) meditations.
I touch base with all three areas of interest I delve in:
Guided meditation is invaluable to vary peaceful contemplation in silence.
Inspiration to write motivates the heart to hand movement.
Imagination is lit and satisfies as we are lost in another’s space and time as readers.