Let's start this time with the food.
Chili Corn Bread Salad
I don't want to stay away from this stuff. I want to eat the whole pan! This is why I need a life of the mind, so I don't languish, thinking of the corn bread, the bacon, the cheese, the gooey ranch dressing stuff, the . . .
Where were we now?
Oh, yes. Life of the mind. Reading books and all that.
So I read Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue, about a woman who dies, but stays "between," which means she hangs around the living, spying on them, creating cool breezes, moving mugs and pens, whatever. That might make it sound like a comedy, but Thin Air takes itself pretty seriously.
The story moves around in time. We're in the 1920s when the main character dies, then we move to the present, then before she dies, then . . . Keeping all the characters sorted out was beyond me. People float in and out (literally! being dead and all). And finally, the author shows an insufferable contempt for people who don't believe the way she does.
I'm not sure how a book like this made it through the editorial catch-nets.
I gave it up. It certainly wasn't enough to keep me from thinking about cornbread, and cheese, and bacon and . . .
Whoa. Let me get ahold of myself here.
Why don't we move on to Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead. The unnammed protagonist is a professional namer. Corporations call him in to re-ignite their brands--be they medicines, candies or styrofoam cups--with a zippy new name.
So a quiet little town that's in the middle of remaking itself into a booming, business-friendly burg calls him to re-name the place, something that will project its new, forward-thinking ways.
Everybody has a different opinion of what this name should be. The great-grandson of the tycoon that brought barbed-wire manufacturing to the town thinks one thing. The mayor, a descendant of the freed slaves that founded the place, thinks another. Add to that the relentlessly cheerful entrepreneur who's bringing in new business and all his opinions and you have tugs in every direction.
Apex was a witty and enjoyable ride, roasting all the ingredients of a town and contemplating what names mean to us all. I think you might like it.