Friday, May 27, 2016

Alfred Hitchcock (Peter Ackroyd)

Fans of the world-renowned director won’t necessarily find anything new in Peter Ackroyd’s Alfred Hitchcock.  There is obviously a slew of biographies written about Hitch, so to discover some fresh tidbits is often difficult.  However, Ackroyd does add flavor to the book by adding new insight into Hitchcock's quirky personality (some would say).

From his childhood in England to his huge movie career in the States, Hitchcock was a unique character. His constantly nervous ways made his early years be spent in fearful isolation, so it’s interesting that he became one of the most famous directors who ever lived. Ackroyd really plays up Hitchcock’s quirks in all their glory, like the fact that he smashed a tea cup every single day to remind him how frail life was. It is also interesting to read how superstars like Grace Kelly and Cary Grant became very insecure over his seemingly nonchalant directing style.

So while there’s nothing really new here, Ackroyd puts together a thorough, well-written look into Hitchcock’s life that will keep fans quite engrossed.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Where'd You Go, Bernadette (Maria Semple)

To author Maria Semple’s credit, the reader never quite knows the direction that Where’d You Go, Bernadette is taking.  The novel was popular and continues to be so for a reason, as it’s highly original and probably like nothing you’ve ever read before.

Even though she used to be a gifted architect, Bernadette Fox is now a recluse, preferring to keep to herself in the Seattle that she despises. Her daughter, Bea, attends a hoity-toity private school, and all the other mothers there just don’t understand why Bernadette won’t get involved more.  Elgie is Bernadette’s husband and world renowned at Microsoft for his revolutionary TED Talk and invention.  Per Bea’s request, the family plans a trip to Antarctica, but Bernadette disappears before they can make it there together. 

Rather than write a straight narrative, Semple chooses to tell the story of Bernadette through Bea’s eyes, as well as through a series of e-mails, letters, and the like.  In this fashion, she manages to create a dynamic book that’s filled with black comedy and “I can’t believe she just said/did that” moments.  It shouldn’t work, but it does, so just read it! You won’t be disappointed in this very unique book.