I've been reading a lot of fiction over the past few weeks, which has been really nice. I started by picking up Toni Morrison's latest offering, Love (Knopf, October 28, 2003), which I really liked. I'm not generally a huge Morrison fan (I liked Paradise a lot, as well as The Bluest Eye but most of the books she wrote in between the two didn't do too much for me), but Love was a good read. Intense, the way all her books are, but not particularly confusing and not as irritatingly overt as some of her other work. I'd recommend it.
After I finished Love (in a couple of nights, it really is quick), I started Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace (Nan A. Talese, November 1, 1996). Atwood is another one I've never really been able to get into. Everybody loves The Handmaid's Tale, but I found it fairly irritating. And Alias Grace was even worse. Or at least started out that way. To be perfectly honest, I put it down about 50 pages in and haven't picked it back up.
Then, on the plane home, I read Jill Ciment's The Tattoo Artist (Pantheon, August 23, 2005), which I picked up at the library based solely on the title and on Howard Zinn's back-cover rave. It was pretty good, but not exceptional. The subject matter--a Bohemian New York artist getting stuck on a Polynesian island for 30 years, "going native" and becoming a tattoo artist--is certainly interesting, but the narrative itself didn't do a whole lot for me. It had its moments, though, and was certainly worth reading.
Last night I finished Chitra Divakaruni's Queen of Dreams (Doubleday, September 14, 2004). Divakaruni is an Indian-American author my friend The Princess turned me on to a couple of years ago, when she lent me Mistress of Spices and gave me a copy of Sister of my Heart for my birthday. Of the three, I liked Queen of Dreams, the most recent, the best. It's a little more accessible/believable to a Westerner than Mistress of Spices, and a little more interesting than Sister of My Heart. It could be that I liked it better because it is set in the States, rather than in India, but I think there's more to it than that. It didn't seem to be trying as hard as the earlier books. After reading it, I'm a bit more convinced of Divakurani's talent of her own right, and will probably stop calling her a rip off of Bharati Mukherjee.
And now I need something new to read. I picked up Jane Stevenson's three novella book, Good Women (Mariner Books, January 6, 2006) last night, but the first couple of chapters really irritated me, so I don't know if I'll finish it. I recently scored used copies of Vanity Fair and Jane Austen'sPersuasion, neither of which I've read, so maybe I'll try one of those. Other ideas are very welcome in the comments.