One of the few joys air travel provides is long periods to read. I have been saving some new novels in series for such occasions, but a couple of stand-alone works also appeared on my iPad.
I will buy anything Christopher Moore writes; I love his over-the-top world that much. I also like art, particularly the impressionists and others of La Belle Epoque. Sacre Bleu delighted me for these reasons. The novel begins with the death of Vincent Van Gogh, thought to be a suicide but in reality a murder by a mysterious, misshapen man. Lucien Lessard and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec become detectives, eventually tracking down the murderer and his beautiful female friend. Along the way the reader gets to review the wonderful art and colorful artists of this period, as well as some others throughout time. I loved my college art history class, but I wish it could have been this much fun.
The other book is a first novel from Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding. Two factors went into this download. First, it made Maureen Corrigan's best of 2011 list. Of course, I live in a baseball family, providing my second motivation for the download. My son got his Fisher-Price tee ball set for his second birthday, and he then insisted that I pitch to him ("No. Throw ball!"). I gently lobbed the plastic whiffleball, he swung his bat, and the ball hit me in the face. He and his father love the sport, and I have grown to appreciate it along the way (despite the injuries I have suffered).
This novel follows a nearly perfect shortstop, Henry, as he joins the team at Westish, a tiny liberal arts college along the shores of Lake Michigan. The plots revolve around Henry, the player who discovers him, Henry's roommate, the college president, and the president's daughter; everyone except Henry's roommate take turns narrating the action.
Through 60% of the novel I was enthralled with its mix of baseball, academia, and the fate of our dreams. The last 40% requires some major suspension of disbelief. I kept reading, trying to figure out how these plots would resolve. Some events are improbable, to say the least. I hoped to tell you that this is a great novel, but the ending action drops it down to merely good. If you like baseball, especially at the college level, you will enjoy this read. Like Sacre Bleu, you will never believe these events actually happened.
I have another trip later this week, and I have downloaded Christopher Buckley's newest work, They Eat Puppies, Don't They? I will let you know how I like that one next week.
Are you reading something you love? Let me know; I am always looking for good stuff!