This one’s been on my reading list for a long time. Amy Tan’s 1989 novel “The Joy Luck Club” features four Chinese-origin mother-daughter pairs living in San Francisco, sharing point-of-view vignettes about their lives as they play mahjong as part of the informal club. The immigrant stories of the mothers were especially interesting, but the absence of good father figures left me wondering about stereotypes. Eager to watch the movie adaptation.
I haven’t yet watched much of what John Cleese is famous for, be it the “Monty Python” series or “Fawlty Towers”. Not that it mattered while reading his memoirs. “So, Anyway …” has more to do with his life and early career until “Monty Python” made him famous. While series fans might be disappointed, I enjoyed the descriptions of Cleese’s childhood and how he strayed into comedy while studying law at Cambridge. Graham Chapman (Yes, I’ve watched “Life of Brian”) and David Frost also feature in it. No matter what Cleese says about writing good comedy, he’s really good at it. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in a book tinged with sadness. And yes, I look forward to watching “Monty Python” and “Fawlty Towers” someday.
Everything that ever happened to Lena Dunham is fodder for her memoir. In a series of personal essays, the creator of the hit series “Girls” documents attempts to lose weight (there’s a chapter with her food diary), failed dates, e-mail exchanges, and visits to therapists. Dunham is funny and a good writer — there’s no doubt about that. And she has no qualms about sharing everything from her life. Some parts may make you squirm. But if you liked “Girls”, you’ll like “Not That Kind of Girl”.
A complex novel with many threads that Margaret Atwood deftly weaves into a layered narrative using flashbacks and multiple time schemes. The Chase sisters seem to have it easy, growing up in early 19th-century Canada as heirs to a button factory. But things go downhill pretty soon. And no, the blind assassin of the title is not the one you think it is.