Sunday, April 24, 2011

California Dreaming

I felt this particular author deserved a recommendation/review.  Every adult, no matter how dry and logical, should read this man's books because they are wonderful.

Richard Peck
If ever you need a good book to spend very little time on, this is your author.  He writes in an easy-to-read, down-to-earth style that engages your brain and paints clear images without being overly verbose.  Many of Mr. Peck's books are quick reads because they are technically children's books.  However, they have a realistic, poignant, wry give and take between sadness and joy.  They go fast because, as soon as you begin, there's no going back: you have to keep reading.
I particularly recommend a set of three books, the latest of which was only just published.  For lack of a more unifying series title, I will call them The Adventures of Mrs. Dowdel.  Listed in the technical order, they are A Long Way from Chicago, A Year Down Yonder, and A Season of Gifts.*    Mrs. Dowdel is the larger-than-life** mishmash of every appallingly yet well-meaningly meddlesome person ever to draw breath, and is one of fiction's very best characters in my opinion.
If you really need a good time, read one of them aloud to your loved ones.  Laugh and say, "Awww," together: it makes it so much better.***

*Personally, A Year Down Yonder is by far my favorite.  I spent a lot of time with it, which probably helps^, but it is definitely worth the time.

^I used different cuttings in two years of prose presentation competitions.  It went one of two ways: either people understood the Depression-era terminology and laughed hysterically, or they did not and stared at me as though I was speaking Finnish.

**Literally, larger.  As in, a huge person without being a good-hearted force of nature in spectacles and a dress.  As in, she can mimic a professional 1950's boxer and get away with it.  As in, she was a camel in a school Christmas production.

***My entire family is familiar with the adventures of Mrs. Dowdel, and thanks to the influence of A Year Down Yonder call her 'Grandma' out of practice.  I probably spent at least an hour reading A Season of Gifts to my parents today . . . such fun! 

Thinking about and reading books is great fun, so in some ways today was a good day.  In others, it was horrible, primarily because I spend far too much time analyzing every embarrassing thing I do.

Conversations are difficult.  Especially with people one regards as friends while not being overly familiar with the intrinsic characteristics of the people in question.  Beyond the typical--and inane--topics of weather, work, blah blah blah . . . what do you talk about to someone you have not seen or conversed with in a good many weeks/months?

I have no waffling skills, and am bad at creating topics from nothing.  Sigh.  I am also easily distracted by points of interest--such as work--that somehow apply to the current situation of me and mine.  Siiigh.  Work especially right now.  Work more than anything else right now.  If you want to successfully kill a conversation with me right now, bring up work.  I will be so busy thinking of all the things I cannot say that I will become silent or awkward, or both.  Siiiiiiigh.

I will survive these trying times, but sometimes I wonder . . . why am I so easily distracted?  Urrrrgh.

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