Monday, December 13, 2010

No Dragon Tattoos Here-- THE ICE PRINCESS

THE ICE PRINCESS-- Camilla Lackberg

As is apparently everyone and their mother (except MY mother who would HATE them!) I am a huge fan of the Millennium Series by Stieg Larsson.  I loved the characters, was enthralled by the drama, and found myself constantly trying to solve the mysteries-- though usually inaccurately, as I decided that Larsson had thrown us off and that Berger was the real bad guy!  (And, no, that is NOT a spoiler alert...)  The problem with a great series is that it must come to an end.  As with The Spellman Books, I really hate saying goodbye to my new BFFs, or, in the case of Salander, to the crazy chick that kinda scares me!

To that end, I was thrilled to discover Camilla Lackberg's The Ice Princess.  Lackberg is also a Swedish crime novelist.  So, just as all American authors of the same genre write the same stories (I often confuse the works of Louisa May Alcott and Danielle Steele, don't you??) I figured this book would easily fill the void left by Salander's departure.

Obviously, I was wrong.  Lackberg isn't Danielle Steele, but she writes a much less enthralling story than does Larsson.  To put it in context, my mother could read this book.  She's also not quite as strong of a writer as Larsson.  That said, I really enjoyed this book and was very happy with the follow up, The Preacher, as well.  Her mysteries are solvable, but interesting.  Her story lines are well plotted and her characters are well developed.  

The title character in the first book is a woman named Alex who is found dead (and, as you'd expect, frozen) in her small town on the Swedish coast.  The book attempts to find out who killed her and why.  Much of the story actually focuses on Alex's childhood best friend, Erica, who is kind, generous, and good.  She is an infinitely more likable character  than Salander, though not nearly as interesting.

I'll leave the plot there for you to discover on your own.  This book and it's companion aren't going to change your world, make you laugh or become classics.  But, they're good and hearty, will fill you up and satisfy.  Much like a Swedish meatball...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sarah Silverman writes a book and I'm not in it...

THE BEDWETTER: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee-- Sarah Silverman


This past summer, our dear friends got married in Nantucket.  While wandering around the island the morning of the wedding, we ran into Sarah Silverman.  In fact, I showed her where to get coffee (yeah, I'm just that cool...)  She was kind, personable and very self-deprecating.  I totally wanted to be her BFF!

So, I was so excited to read her memoir, The Bedwetter.  Given what I knew of her, I was fully prepared for a book fully of references to bathroom habits, funny noises and dirty jokes.  What I got instead was an honest and fulfilling review of Sarah's youth and a commentary on the major events that have taken place in her life to date.

Don't get me wrong- the book was hilarious!  She begins with a foreward written by, yup, Sarah Silverman. She states how honored she was when she asked herself to write the foreward of her book.  She says she's always been a fan of her work and was so excited to be a part of her own book.  I laughed out loud throughout.

More than that, though, I got to learn more about what made Sarah into the witty, sharp and pottymouthed woman she is.  She focused on many childhood issues that most of us would still be too embarrassed to talk about.  For example, she wet the bed. It was an issue she struggled with until she was a teenager.  But, rather than allow the incident to define who she was, she chose to make it only a part of her.  Obviously, it's hard to be social when you fear you'll have an accident any time there's a sleep-over party.  It's challenging to make friends when you're carrying an embarrassing secret.  But, Sarah's humor wasn't a defense mechanism; she was funny before she had a secret.  As a result, her humor is, I think, deeper and more thoughtful.  Sarah's humor doesn't try to hide facets of her being, but instead illuminates aspects of her life-- and ours-- that are silly or inexplicable.

Because many comedians turn to comedy as a means of coping, it's assumed that they develop fairly thick skin. And, frankly, I've come to believe that many are kind of mean-- the world's been unkind to them, so they're unkind in return.  Sarah's memoir reminds us that she doesn't have the layer of armor that many of her peers do, probably because she has enjoyed a fairly normal, stable and, usually, a happy life.  While that makes her fabulous and a great candidate for a BFF, it also means that the cruelties that can accompany fame hit her harder than some.  Because Sarah doesn't aim to be mean or to hurt anyone, she has a fairly deep reaction when someone is offended by her acts.  It's not that she's weak, she simply comes to comedy from a different perspective.

Sarah doesn't aim to be a role model and she didn't write the book to boast about all that's she's accomplished.  In many ways, I think she wrote the book as an explanation-- this is what I am and this is why I've done what I've done.  She writes about her highs and lows, her disappointments, and her proudest achievements.  Hers is an immensely fun and readable story from a truly funny person... who really should be my BFF!