Along the way, I have been reading books and listening to audio books on my iPod. Here are my brief reports:

The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger. Holden Caulfield is annoying at first, but as his character is revealed to be deeper and more nuanced in the progression of the story, it becomes almost impossible not to have profound compassion for him. I love the title, how opaque it is until the very end of the novel, and then it seems to say everything. A fantastic book.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaimann (audiobook). The narrator of this audiobook was great, giving a different voice for every single character of the book. Nothing to deep here, but a fun way to get over steep hills.

Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund (audiobook). This is a historical novel about Marie Antoinette. It is very well done, written in the first person, and details her entire life in France, from when she first arrived at 14 to marry the prince until her beheading many years later. A great book for insight into the frivolousness of the French court before the revolution, but also for a look at the senseless brutality that was commonplace in that particular transfer of power.

Jazz by Toni Morrison. Some have said Toni Morrison is one of the greatest writers living in America today, and it’s hard to argue with that. Her writing is provocative, haunting, seems to float down all around you softly before getting hard and textured. Jazz is a beautiful story about love, about passion, about consequences of choices made when we don’t know what we are doing. A character in the book has great affinity for the woods, for the music of the trees and the wind, and it was touching to read as I fought my way up the Pioneer mountains and the Centennial Valley.

Crazy For The Storm by Norm (audiobook). A boy survives a plane crash that kills his father, his father’s girlfriend, and the pilot, and he has to climb out of the mountains in a storm. A nice narrative about the relationship between a child and his father, and inspiring when I was freezing in hail storms and hiding from lightning.

The Grapes of Wrath, a radio drama (audiobook). I haven’t read this particular Steinbeck novel yet, but the radio drama made me want to. The sound of the wind blowing in the Ohio dust bowl felt particularly relevant.

True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
This is one good adjectival book. It is written in the hand of a semi-literate outlaw in Australia, and the consequent bad grammar creates a spell-binding narrative, rather than being distracting. Towards the end there is a scene where a horse is tortured to death, and it took me days to get over that; out here, there is no distraction from what haunts you. Moreover, I pass a lot of horses every day. I would have to shake the disturbing image from my mind and talk myself into remembering it was only story. It is almost poetic, since the book runs on a theme of living in a melancholy land where one can’t escape the story they were born in to.

The Lord Of The Rings (audiobook), a BBC radio drama
This was so over-dramatized, I couldn’t finish it, no matter how difficult the hills I was climbing at the time. Bad.

The Trial by Franz Kafka (audiobook)
I finished this a while ago but my feelings about it were complicated enough to warrant waiting to comment. I liked it, sort of. It will linger with me, definitely. I am perhaps most compelled by the rare view into the mysterious process of writing which is afforded by this incomplete novel. Characters are only partially developed and themes only halfway explored when everything is ended so beautifully in the quarry. Joseph K is at once impotent by both his own actions and those placed upon him by the court, and what is at times fascinating and at other times irritating is watching the convoluted interplay between the two. In any case, there is really too much to be said about this story. It was good. In it’s own special way.

Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
What a page turner. Iconic american figures from the twenties are strands in a novelistic web at whose center lies the perfectly generic and yet nuanced family, the members of which are referred to not by name but by their position in the family. Love, adventure, betrayal, ancient Egypt: it’s all here, but catalogued in a wonderfully optimistic tone. Good.