Pinball Brain and Book List

 I’m reading a most extraordinary book and in trying to formulate a short “review” my brain went pinballing all over the place. As I composed this post in my head multiple topics popped into my consciousness. I even stopped thinking to Google some facts. Let’s see if I can stick to basics.

The book: Matrix, a novel by Lauren Groff 

The main character is Marie based on a real person, Marie de France. Another historical person who figures prominently is Eleanor of Aquitaine and, quite obviously the story takes place in the 12 century. I suppose one could say this is an historical novel, a genre I don’t often read. 

The story is quite engaging, the writing is magical, topics covered are quite modern and topical even. 

Can I say more? Oh my yes but that would have me (and you if you follow along) bouncing around history, women in history, feminism, religion etc. 

I don’t know that this is a book for everyone and while it is a short book (252 pages in total) I am reading it slowly, maybe ten pages at a sitting, because it is thick with words and images and ideas. It is powerful and magical and absolutely brilliant. 

Excellent book #2: The Sentence by Louise Erdrich. 

Oddly enough this book also features real life people – the author herself and her real life bookstore. The fictional characters in the book are most probably based on real people (my assumption). The time is now, the covid pandemic is a feature. Also – it is woman centric. 

It reads easily and quickly. The language is what I call conversational. I like books written in a conversational style. They are engaging, they draw you in easily because these are people you might know and this is how you talk and interact. And their lives are relatable. 

Books I didn’t finish for various reasons – 

Tracy Flick Can’t Win by Tom Perrotta – Seems this is 30 years later sequel to the book “Election” which was made into a movie (also called Election starring Reese Witherspoon as Tracy Flick). I never read the first book and I never saw the movie and I just didn’t care.

Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell – This was also made into a movie (2010) with Jennifer Lawrence which is why I chose the book. The movie always looked interesting tho I never watched it. Perhaps the movie is better than the book because, once again, nothing about this book was engaging or interesting to me. Reviews say it reads like a thriller. It wasn’t.

The Latinist by Mark Prins – No – just no. Perhaps a little pretentious? Perhaps I’m just not smart enough to appreciate it? Or – it’s just boring. Pfft!

Devil House by John Darnielle – Description from the Amazon listing – “Devil House is John Darnielle’s most ambitious work yet, a book that blurs the line between fact and fiction, that combines daring formal experimentation with a spellbinding tale of crime, writing, memory, and artistic obsession.” 

I didn’t get far enough into the book to be able to comment on any of that description. The book was just tedious. 

I also knocked off a few light and fluffy books – murder mysteries that I accessed for free from various free ebook sites. None of them really stick in my mind and I don’t actually keep track of them. But every one I started I finished. They were hardly great literature but more engaging than the critically acclaimed books listed above that I did not finish. 

And there you have it. How I spend my time. I’m going to put a bunch of links to these books below and you can read the professional reviews of these books if you are moved to do so. 


Matrix – NPR review,  Marie de France (Wikipedia entry)Eleanor of Aquitaine (Wikipedia entry)

The Sentence – NPR review,  Louise Erdrich – Wikipedia entry

Tracy Flick Can’t Win – NPR review

Winter’s Bone – NPR review

The Latinist – NPR review (audio and transcript)

Devil House – Kirkus review

8 thoughts on “Pinball Brain and Book List

  1. I think I will try the Sentence…. I finally found time on vacation this week to finish a book. The newest Stephanie Plum series. I enjoy those for the levity and ease of reading. Doesn’t make me think, kind of my idea of a beach read. But I’m ready for something with substance. Hope you had a lovely week!


  2. Book #2 sounds like something I would read. In the past I have seen movies and then read the books they came from. The movies are never as good in my opinion. I've learned I can read or watch but never both.


  3. In this case I think the movie is probably better than the book – doesn't usually happen that way, I agree. “The Sentence” isn't light and fluffy but it has much humor and you will really like the people!


  4. I enjoy books that are conversational! I read the reviews and have put The Sentence on my list. I've been reading every day lately as a way to escape my life so I appreciate your review of your book list. I don't say much on FB these days but J is driving mom and her dog here from Vegas for a visit – not moving here yet thankfully – and they'll be here in a couple of hours. J said she has her side of the car on 80 degrees, I think it's getting warm in the house and it's 73 in here. Hoo boy is this going to be fun!


  5. Bless you my child – I was thinking about you so much the last few days, wondering how the Mom and move thing was progressing. And here you are! Ah, old people like it hot – not me of course – and your Mom is probably younger than I am – BUT her having lived in Vegas I'm guessing the PNW weather is NOT her cup of tea (yeah, 73 inside? a bit warm for me too.)


  6. Now I have to read Winter's Bone… because if I agree that it's shitty…then that will be the first time for me that a movie was better than a book. I hope you get to watch the movie some time soon. -Melissa


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