THE HUNGRY GHOSTS

SHYAM SELVADURAI

“In Sri Lankan myth, a person is reborn a peréthaya [hungry ghost] because, during his human life, he desired too much” When his father died,six-year-old Shivan’s mother and sister moved with him into his maternal grandmother’s house. Daya was an angry and demanding woman who refused to talk to her daughter. Shivan, the grandson, became the golden boy, the reason she would take the family in. While he soaked up his grandmother’s recounting of ancient Buddhist tales about ghosts who haunt their future selves until past wrongs are redeemed, Shivan also chafed against her hold on him as he aged. He persuaded his mother to move the family to Canada, as much to get away from Daya as to flee the escalating conflict in Sri Lanka. Not that he could really escape—neither his grandmother nor his troubled country were anywhere near finished wreaking havoc in Shivan’s life. On an extended visit back to Sri Lanka, Shivan was taking over his grandmother real estate business until his grandmother had his lover killed.

Ghosts is a well written book. But when Shiven’s affair with Michael goes south I wanted to tell the young men to grow up. It could have used some paring down.

ORDINARY GRACE

WILLIAM KENT KRUEGER

grace“The dead are never far from us. They’re in our hearts and on our minds and in the end all that separates us from them is a single breath, one final puff of air.”

I don”t cry while reading but Grace brought tears to my eyes. This beautifully written novel harkens backs to simpler times but the relationships in the book are anything but simple. The time is1961; the story is told by Frank Drum, minister’s son. “It was a summer in which death, in visitation, assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.” Frank and his family are ravaged by the devastating events of the summer. His father being the town pastor is kept informed of developments by the police. Frank and his younger brother find a way to listen to these private conversations and hear more than they should.

The characters come alive in Krueger’s warm writing. It is a novel you don’t want to end.

“When my mother finally sang it was not just a hymn she offered, it was consummate comfort. She sang slowly and richly and delivered the heart of that great spiritual [‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’] as if she was delivering heaven itself and her face was beautiful and full of peace. I shut my eyes and her voice reached out to wipe away my tears and enfold my heart . . . And when she finished the sound of the breeze through the doorway was like the sigh of angels well pleased.”

“To this day there are pieces I cannot hear without imagining my sister’s fingers shaping the music every bit as magnificently as God shaped the wings of butterflies.”

A PLEASURE AND A CALLING

pleasurePHILL HOGAN

Pleasure opens with one of the funniest first chapters ever written. Mr. Heming, a small town real-estate salesman, considers himself to be the town’s protector. When he reminds a dog walker to pick up the dog’s leavings and is told to piss off, he gleefully scoops up the poop, goes home to retrieve the walkers house key and leaves the shit in the middle of the man’s white carpet. He has keys for all the homes his company has ever sold.

But he is not a peeping Tom. He immerses himself in others’ lives.  “I don’t peep through windows. … I am not a stalker, or a voyeur. I am simply sharing an experience, a life as it happens.” “Among strangers’ belongings is where I am most at home…I know where they keep their private things, how they arrange their lives. I follow their plans and make mine around them.” 

“… a god at play.”

I loved how it starts off hilarious then gradually becomes creepier and creepier.

Anyone who reads this thriller will want to change their locks anytime they buy a new house.

SECOND YOU SIN

SCOTT SHERMAN

Second is promoted as a gay mystery but it is more concerned about gay relationships, lifestyles and friendships. The mystery is a small part of this novel. Kevin is a male prostitute who loves his job. He only has to work 5 or 6 hours a week to make an excellent living. When he notices that other hustlers are dying he wants to get know what is going on for his own protection and the protection of others. His semi-boyfriend a hot NYC cop wants Kevin to find a new job but refuses any kind of true commitment.

Second is quite funny at times. Kevin’s mother is a comedic treasure who speaks her mind and gets her point across any way she can. Her interview with a bitch TV star is hilarious.

If what you want is a mystery Second is not the book for you. If your interested in a funny book about perfect (all the men are hot and gorgeous) gay lives then Second You Sin is a good read.