Friday, April 15, 2011

Spring Break Reading List - Swamp Things

"Books – the best antidote against the marsh-gas of boredom and vacuity."
 – George Steiner

The Book Phantom is leaving for vacation this week-end, and I will be in the marshy low-country of Georgia, partying with alligators in a “drinking town with a fishing problem”.  That’s right – I’ll be in Tybee Island for a little R & R, with plans to jaunt into Savannah for some culture and good food.  Because I’m going to be in the “swamp”, my New Book pick is Swamplandia! by Karen Russell.  Hopefully, Russell will cure me of the aforementioned marsh-gas of boredom, but since I’ll be on vacation, I can deal with at least a little vacuity.

In fact, my reading list will be a little fluffy this go ‘round.  After Shakespearean tragedies, my mind craves some lighter fare.  I’m leaving out my usual professional development book selection, just because I don’t want to think about working.  Instead, I’m adding a contemporary “chick lit” title for leisurely reading on the beach.  So here is my non-boring yet non-taxing reading list inspired by Swamps, Savannah, and the Seashore.

  1. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (New Release).  I've had this book for a little over a month, saving it for the vacay, and it hasn’t been easy not to peek.  It’s about a girl and her carnival-type family who run a gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades (I know, I know – the Georgia low-country isn’t exactly the Everglades, but did you read about that grandma that was eaten by an alligator in Savannah? I'm a little scared I’ll encounter one on the beach, too!  Maybe Russell will have some “gator wrastlin’” tips in her book - just in case.)  Anyway, the character descriptions on the book flap totally sucked me in: Ava Bigtree, the thirteen year old heroine, must save the family theme park from a competitor called The World of Darkness; Ossie, the sister, falls in love with Dredgeman who is probably a ghost; Kiwi, the scholarly brother, betrays the family by joining The World of Darkness; and Chief Bigtree, the father, is missing.  Oh, and there’s a cast of 98 gators in little Ava’s charge.  You can’t get more original than this.
  2. Wise Blood  by Flannery O’Connor (Classic).  As a Southerner, I admit with some chagrin that I have never read Flannery O’Connor (although I have a foggy notion that at least one of her short stories crossed my path in high school English class).  O’Connor was born and raised in Savannah, so I will make the pilgrimage to her childhood home.  She only wrote two novels – Wise Blood is one of them.
  3. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt (Non-Fiction).  I read this title in the mid-90s when it was released, and I loved it.  I plan to thumb through it again to refamiliarize myself with the Savannah locales mentioned in the story.  It seems de rigueur for one touring Savannah.
  4. Fallen by Lauren Kate (Young Adult).  This is the first in a paranormal series about fallen angels.  It takes place in a boarding school in Savannah.  The second book is called Torrent, and the third, due for release June 14th, is called Passion.  I perused this a few times at Target but didn’t buy it because I thought it might be a bit Twilight-y (not that there’s anything wrong with that – I just like variety).  If I want to go out and immediately buy the rest of the series, you’ll know it’s a winner. 
  5. Savannah Breeze by Mary Kay Andrews (Contemporary).  This is chick-lit beach reading.  Here's a quick synopsis:  BeBe Loudermilk is in a relationship with a con-man who said he was an investment counselor.  He absconds with all her money, and all she has left is a run-down motel on Tybee Island.  BeBe and her friends fix up the motel, saving her from financial ruin.  When she locates the crooked boyfriend in Florida, BeBe heads south to get her money and perhaps some sweet revenge.  I’ll be enjoying this in lieu of a writer’s reference this week.
  6. Walking on Alligators: A Book of Meditations for Writers by Susan Shaughnessy (Writers’ Reference).  Even though I won’t be doing any professional development reading, I'm at least suggesting a writer’s reference book.  This title seemed appropriate for my "Swamp Things" reading list. 
I'll be posting my reading adventures next week from Savannah (unless the gators eat me before I can eat them!)  Stay tuned…

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