Thursday, August 6, 2009

Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti

A strange title for a bittersweet love story. Benny and Shrimp (real name Desiree) are both middle aged and lonely. Benny is a dairy farmer who never went to college while Shrimp is a librarian and an avid reader/philosophizer. They meet in a cemetery and fall in love, only to realize that perhaps the passion they feel towards each other may not necessarily carry their relationship into the future. The best relationships are founded on compromise, but are the two willing to sacrifice parts of their lives for each other?

A quick read, but a thoughtful one at that.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Zeithoun by Dave Eggers

(Taken from When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a prosperous Syrian-American and father of four, chose to stay through the storm to protect his house and contracting business. In the days after the storm, he traveled the flooded streets in a secondhand canoe, passing on supplies and helping those he could. A week later, on September 6, 2005, Zeitoun abruptly disappeared.

As founder of the irreverent McSweeney's, Dave Eggers has created a niche for himself in as a literary do-gooder - first by setting up urban writing centers for teens across the country, then by covering the atrocities of war in Sudan with What is the What, the proceeds of which went directly back into aid to the country and its people, and now with shedding light on Katrina's aftermath. Though Egger's work is non-fiction, his narrative is definitely compelling reading (and so bleak and tragic that you WISH it was fiction). Much like how 9/11 is slowly being incorporated into comtemporary fiction, you can bet that with time, Katrina will be another similar source for fiction as well.