Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Fiction? Why Yes!

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Occasionally themacinator reads fiction. It's not easy to review fiction, so I have a backlog of three books, and I'll sum them up all together here.  First was "The O'Briens," by Peter Behrens. This is Behrens' most recent book, the sequel to "The Law of Dreams," which I just read. It worked just fine to read the books backwards, because they work equally well as stand-alones. Saga-like, "The O'Briens" is the story of a few generations (I've forgotten now) of Irish immigrants and their families in Quebec and the United States as they succeed and almost-succeed. Not surprisingly for the book that came before, "The Law of Dreams" is the story of a previous generation, in Ireland, during the famine. Presumably it's the story of the male predecessor, as he goes through a series of lady friends, and ends up traveling to Quebec with a woman who one assumes becomes the matriarch of the O'Brien clan.  The first book, which I read second, is the better book, if slightly more fantastical.  Both books are easy, fast reads, sometimes welcome for a serious reader like yours truly. One has to wonder, though: why are so many books about Ireland and Irish immigrants? What makes this story so fascinating? (I have no answers.)

The third book, and the best by far, was Thomas Mallon's "Watergate." This book came highly recommended by THB, who a) is also not a huge fiction reader, b) knows his history, and c) lived through Watergate. He liked it, so this is a ringing endorsement, and "Watergate" really was fabulous. Literally my only complaint was that the four page cast of character list at the start of the book wasn't somehow repeated throughout the book. Readable, informative, humanizing- it's really good. Okay, I guess I have another minor complaint: I don't know if it's true or not. I mean, I don't have THB's qualifications: I don't know my history, especially my Watergate history, and I didn't live through it. I had never heard of one of the main characters in the book, Fred LaRue, so I don't know if Mallon's account via LaRue was particularly credible. On the other hand, I'm not sure it mattered. If you like fiction, and like sort of scandalous historical fiction, this is a great read.


thb said...

Yes, Fred LaRue existed and was involved in Watergate, along with all the other characters (some vetted by THB while reading). One of THB's top books in 2012!