Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Books: Sara Benincasa, John Connolly

Agorafabulous!: Dispatches from My BedroomAgorafabulous!: Dispatches from My Bedroom by Sara Benincasa

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sara Benincasa is a reporter, blogger and stand-up comic. The fact that she could accomplish all of these things in the midst of crippling depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts is amazing and inspiring. Her book is quite funny, but serious at the same time, as she talks about a debilitating panic attack that briefly hospitalized her during a student trip to Italy made worse by a group of mean kids bent on tormenting her. When she was in college, she developed a debilitating fear of leaving her apartment, and even using the bathroom. Melting down into complete agoraphobia, she had to have her parents come to drive her home at her lowest point. The very idea that she is able to relate these and other stories with a touch of self-deprecating humor is very inspiring, especially for someone who has struggled with depression and panic disorders for many years. It is good to hear a success story of someone who went to the brink a couple of times but made it through to the other side to not only talk about it (the hardest part) but really open herself up an laugh about it. This book is both funny and thought provoking.

The White Road (Charlie Parker, #4)The White Road by John Connolly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When an old friend of detective Charlie Parker calls him to ask for help in protecting a defendant in a high-profile murder case he does so with great trepidation. His partner is pregnant and his nemesis, the evil Reverend Faulker, is soon to be released on bail. Reluctantly traveling to South Carolina, Parker discovers that the accused murderer is the latest in a long line of black men who have run afoul of an old-school wealthy white family. When things go pear shaped and bodies start to pile up, Parker must uncover the truth about a secret shared amongst men who are turning up dead. He is in a race against time to find the killer, have a reckoning with Faulkner and stare down his own demons. Like most of the Parker novels, there is a deep vein of melancholy running through this story, especially this time with Parker out of his element in the deep south. Using a narrative that weaves back and forth in time and the perspective of different characters, Connolly develops a compelling story. We do learn more about the nature of Parker's enigmatic friends Angel and Louis and what events shaped their characters. Connolly uses evocative natural images like the imagery used by James Lee Burke to great effect. The supernatural element is toned down in this novel, although there are still some overtones of the unnatural.

View all my book reviews

Send comments to Tim.