Carol Shields was a wonderful writer -- illuminating all the corners of quiet, unregarded lives. I wrote about The Stone Diaries some time ago and have just now finished The Box Garden. It is the story of a woman whose husband left her long ago and who has built a quietly happy life for herself and her son. Her mother's impending wedding sets a number of events in motion and I found myself reading eagerly to see what would happen.
Would she find happiness with Eugene, the orthodontist? Would she ever come to terms with her relationship with supremely unlovable mother. (The mother is an unforgettable character.) And what about the mysterious Brother Adam, with whom she has carried on a correspondence for years? Suffice it to say that all the questions are dealt with in a satisfactory way.
I can't quite put my finger on what it is I like so much about Shields' work -- heaven knows that the thumbnail sketch I've just given wouldn't tempt me to read.
Perhaps it's the crystalline quality of the prose -- the prose that makes the most ordinary things shine with an inner light of their own.
And then there's Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. This is a re-reading -- or re-listening -- and it only gets better each time. The audio book is excellent- a bravura performance.
Essentially, it's the story of the Apocalypse, complete with the Anti-Christ, the Four Horsemen, showers of frogs, the rising of Atlantis, and assorted other signs of portents. The Battle of Good and Evil was never so well imagined -- nor so well resolved.
Pratchett and Gaiman's antic humor has free rein here -- the Hell Hound that is sent as a companion to the Antichrist becomes a scruffy little mongrel who finds he really enjoys chasing rabbits more than lost souls. An angel and a demon who have been on Earth for thousands of years, attempting to influence mankind to the Good or the Evil, often have lunch together and compare notes on their respective employers.
It's a big, sprawling, wild ride of a book -- and I'll probably listen to it again before long, just to savor again all the many good bits.