I have a ton of books to review but am just not finding the time this week…how about two mini reviews of some men named David:

David Malouf – The Conversations at Curlow Creek

Two men sit talking in the middle of the night in a lonely area of the Australian Outback. One is an officer, the other a criminal. In the morning, the officer must hang the outlaw. As they talk, the officer ponders the justice of what he is about to do, what it will feel like to take a man’s life. At the same time, the moment brings him to reflect on his past and what brought him to Australia (a search for a long-lost brother) and what he left behind (the woman he loves.). It took me some time to get used to Malouf’s writing style, which I can only describe as tangential and discursive, but it was definitely worth the effort. The overall effect is lovely.

David Guterson – East of the Mountains

The hero of this meditative novel is Dr. Ben Givens, a seventy-year-old retired physician. He has been recently diagnosed with incurable colon cancer and on the morning the novel opens has decided to commit suicide by faking his death on a hunting trip. There are a series of memorable scenes in this book, the best of which, although violent, involves a pack of Irish Wolfhounds and a coyote. Guterson is also really good at evoking the rugged beauty of Washington State. This is ultimately a sad book, although that sadness is interrupted by moments of generosity, hope and happiness.