Monday, January 21, 2008

The View From Mount Joy

The first of my holiday selections I decided to read was Lorna Landvik’s latest. Landvik, a native Minnesotan author, actress and humorist, has written many novels that take place throughout the state. I’ve enjoyed them all, some more than others, and The View From Mount Joy falls right in the middle. (My favorites? Tall Pine Polka and Patty Jane’s House of Curl.)

Landvik’s books always revolve around quirky characters and families, and usually women. However, this book is narrated by a guy. It opens as Joe, the narrator, starts high school (in the 70s), having moved from Wisconsin to Minneapolis. He strikes up an interesting “friendship” with the head cheerleader Kristi and an unbreakable, platonic bond with hippie Darva. The book follows Joe through the next 30 years, and how these two women float in and out of his life – sometimes remarkably, sadly, full of fun and infuriatingly.

Landvik’s humor is always flowing strongly through her novels. You’ll laugh out loud and cry, too. I think I prefer when she takes the p.o.v. of women, but she did a pretty good job writing from a male perspective, too. Many of her other books take place in out state Minnesota, so it was fun to read about Lake Hiawatha and other Twin Cities landmarks that I know more about.

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