August 24, 2009 by Reader's Connection
As of this morning, four August book discussions are still coming our way.
Set in Wisconsin, this deeply nuanced epic tells the story of a boy, his dog, and much more. Father, son, and even dog take turns narrating before the story is told primarily by the inexplicably mute Edgar Sawtelle. Part mystery, part Hamlet , the story opens with a sinister and seemingly unrelated scene that begins to make sense as the narrative progresses. The rich depiction of Edgar’s family, who are breeders of unique dogs, creates a warm glow that contrasts sharply with the cold evil that their family contains. This tension, along with a little salting of the paranormal, makes this an excruciatingly captivating read. Readers examine the concept of choice, the choice of the dogs in their relationship with people, and the choice of people in their acquiescence to or rejection of their perceived destiny. Ultimately liberating, though tragic and heart-wrenching, this book is unforgettable — Library Journal
Terrence Baker was born in South Bend. According to a write-up on AuthorsDen.com, this novel– about “a very lovable gangster” named Tea–was inspired by events in the author’s life.
Gene Stratton-Porter’s Indiana classic A Girl of the Limberlost will be discussed at the Franklin Road Library on Thursday, August 27th at 6:30 p.m. Randy Lehman, site manager for the Limberlost State Historical Society, will give a presentation and lead the discussion.
At the start of McMahon’s haunting second novel, recent college grad Rhonda Farr witnesses a child abduction in front of a convenience store in Pike’s Crossing, Vt. Ernestine “Ernie” Florucci willingly leaves her mother’s car because her six-foot-tall abductor is wearing a rabbit suit . . . Guilt over her inability to stop Ernie’s abduction spurs Rhonda to join the search for the girl . . . McMahon expertly shifts between pivotal events in the past and present-day action, building tension to a resolution both poignant and shattering. — Publishers Weekly
And now on to September:
Following the death of New York City painter Oscar Feldman, an artist known for his paintings of the female nude, two rival biographers compete and collide as they set out to tell his life story, with the help of his wife Abigail, sister Maxine, and Teddy, his longtime mistress, in a satirical novel of literary rivalry. — Baker & Taylor
Celebrated in pre-WWII France for her bestselling fiction, the Jewish Russian-born Némirovsky was shipped to Auschwitz in the summer of 1942, months after this long-lost masterwork was composed. Némirovsky, a convert to Catholicism, began a planned five-novel cycle as Nazi forces overran northern France in 1940. This gripping “suite,” collecting the first two unpolished but wondrously literary sections of a work cut short, have surfaced more than six decades after her death. The first, “Storm in June,” chronicles the connecting lives of a disparate clutch of Parisians . . . all fleeing city comforts for the chaotic countryside, mere hours ahead of the advancing Germans. The second, “Dolce,” set in 1941 in a farming village under German occupation, tells how peasant farmers, their pretty daughters and petit bourgeois collaborationists coexisted with their Nazi rulers . . . Némirovsky noted that her goal was to describe “daily life, the emotional life and especially the comedy it provides.” This heroic work does just that, by focusing–with compassion and clarity–on individual human dramas. — Publishers Weekly
Barrayar concerns itself with the Regency of Aral Vorkosigan, who has married Betan survey captain Cordelia Naismith and settled into the rule of the militarist and classist Barrayar . . . Bujold allows her story to unravel through Cordelia’s eyes, a refreshing and quintessentially feminine approach to the kind of tale that most writers would have approached as a straightforward military SF/space opera epic. Thus Barrayar has a heart and a wit that many sagas of this sort lack. Bujold’s gift for character development is in top form here, making Cordelia, for one, heroic not so much in the actions she undertakes but for what she is forced to endure. Many times she overtly regrets her decision to emigrate to Barrayar, whose warmongering customs are so alien and repugnant to her, even though she dearly loves her husband and knows there is no home on Beta for her to go back to. But when it’s time to grab the tiger by the tail, as it were, she rises to the occasion. — Thomas M. Wagner, writing at SF REVIEWS.NET
The Stonecutter’s Aria is a novel in the unique format of an opera program narrated in first-person perspective, based on the true stories of an Italian marble carver and opera tenor during the beginning of the twentieth century. Aristide, the protagonist, immigrated to America where his skills in gothic architecture led him to carve some of this nation’s most distinguished landmarks, including the National Archives, Duke University, and the University of Chicago. Over a century later, his spirit reaches out to help his troubled great granddaughter. A vigorous and attention- catching narrative about an artist’s passion, adventures, regrets, and remembrance. — Midwest Book Review
This remarkable hybrid seems like an impossibility: an American Hamlet, both ghost story and melodrama, a coming of age tale, a hymn to the land–and central to it all, some of the best writing about the inner lives of dogs anywhere. — Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet Mark Doty
Reminiscent of Zora Neale Hurston’s groundbreaking 1937 novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, this story chronicles the lives of impoverished blacks in the town of Wideland, OK, from the early 20th to the 21st century, as told by the town gossip, Hattie Brown. Narrated with gentle wit and humor, the book explores the importance of love, religion, redemption, and family. Cooper allows the characters to speak in the African American Southern dialect, a technique that lends veracity and texture to their personalities. The pace of the plot is like a slow-burning fire: there’s time for rumination, but readers won’t be bored. — Library Journal
Thomas J. Friedman’s Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America will be discussed at the Wayne Library on Monday September 14th at 7:00 p.m.
Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Friedman mapped the level economic playing field created by digital technology and global free-market capitalism in The World Is Flat (2005). He now adds two crucial elements to his galvanizing analysis of the state of the world: climate change and the population explosion. We’re trapped in a catastrophic vicious circle: burning fossil fuels accelerates global warming as the human population increases and the global economy grows, so, too, does oil consumption. Add the malevolence of mega-rich petrodictatorships and America’s precipitous decline, and the need for change is urgent. Backed by flotillas of facts and observations gathered on his investigative journeys to the Middle East, China, India, and beyond, Friedman is lashing in his critique of America’s failure to face energy and climate realities. Yet his belief in America’s capacity for innovation inspires his call for Code Green, a concerted effort to take the lead in developing clean power and energy-efficiency systems and preserving the natural world. — Booklist
Cather at her most matter-of-fact and, as a consequence, her most powerful. She based this book on the life of Bishop Jean Baptiste L’Amy—she calls him Father Latour—the French-born Ohio cleric who was assigned by the church to rebuild the faith in New Mexico after the territory was annexed by the U.S. in 1831. With an old friend, Father Vaillant, Latour sets out for Santa Fe. He will find the church there to be fragmented and corrupt, with priests taking wives and charging exorbitant fees to perform marriages. Latour embarks on a decades-long effort to reform and reinvigorate the diocese. The style and structure of this book are strange, unemphatic, as if Cather had simply laid the scenes side by side in a tapestry. She compared the book to a legend, in which no event is given much dramatic weight. If this sounds like a formula for boredom, it’s not. Her serene language, with its immemorial simplicity, gives the story a weight mere drama could never provide. — Time
Hans van den Broek, the Dutch-born narrator of O’Neill’s dense, intelligent novel, observes of his friend, Chuck Ramkissoon, a self-mythologizing entrepreneur-gangster, that “he never quite believed that people would sooner not have their understanding of the world blown up, even by Chuck Ramkissoon.” The image of one’s understanding of the world being blown up is poignant–this is Hans’s fate after 9/11. He and wife Rachel abandon their downtown loft, and, soon, Rachel leaves him behind at their temporary residence, the Chelsea Hotel, taking their son, Jake, back to London. Hans, an equities analyst, is at loose ends without Rachel, and in the two years he remains Rachel-less in New York City, he gets swept up by Chuck, a Trinidadian expatriate Hans meets at a cricket match. Chuck’s dream is to build a cricket stadium in Brooklyn; in the meantime, he operates as a factotum for a Russian gangster. The unlikely (and doomed from the novel’s outset) friendship rises and falls in tandem with Hans’s marriage, which falls and then, gradually, rises again. O’Neill offers an outsider’s view of New York bursting with wisdom, authenticity and a sobering jolt of realism. — Publishers Weekly
Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron will be discussed at Franklin Road Library on Thursday, September 24th at 6:30 p.m.
Her first thought upon hearing a strange sound coming from the book drop one frigid January morning was “this can’t be good.” In fact, for both the tiny kitten found shivering in the metal box’s corner and for Myron, director of the Spencer Public Library, the discovery was the best thing that ever happened to either of them, and to the tiny Iowa farming community beset by an unrelenting string of economic challenges. Filthy and frostbitten, the kitten was in dire need of massive doses of TLC; fortunately, the library staff, patrons, and townspeople had plenty to spare. The story of how a bedraggled orange fur ball became “Dewey Readmore Books,” an enchantingly irresistible library mascot capable of bringing international attention to a small midwestern town and melting the heart of even the most curmudgeonly visitor, is uplifting enough; but woven among the cute-cat anecdotes are Myron’s own inspirational stories of enduring welfare, the abuses of an alcoholic husband, breast cancer, and single motherhood. Myron’s beguiling, poignant, and tender tale of survival, loyalty, and love is an unforgettable study in the mysterious and wondrous ways animals, and libraries, enrich humanity. — Booklist
When Lula inadvertently witnesses the beheading of culinary TV star Stanley Chipotle in a Trenton, N.J., alley, Stephanie’s on-again off-again boyfriend, cop Joe Morelli, reluctantly takes the case. Lula, with the help of Grandma Mazur, enters the same barbequing competition Chipotle was in town to promote, hoping to lure the murderers out of hiding. Meanwhile, Ranger has recruited Stephanie to help solve a series of break-ins at properties under the protection of Rangeman Security. The inevitable sparks fly between Stephanie and Ranger, with Morelli grumbling on the sidelines. Evanovich dishes up her usual mixture of shoot-’em-up action (numerous cars explode) and quirky characters (notably a neighborhood flasher with a devoted following) — Publishers Weekly
Meri, short for Meribeth, is going through some major changes: she just got married, moved to another state, and bought a new home. When she and her husband, Nathan, move into their New England townhouse, they learn that their neighbor, Delia Naughton, is the wife of the vaunted Sen. Tom Naughton. Delia is at the other end of the spectrum from Meri: her children are grown, and, for her, life is slowing down. Yet the two women hit it off and quickly become friends. Having their first child together teaches Meri and Nathan the nuances of married life; Meri, meanwhile, uncovers the mysteries of Delia and Tom’s relationship. An intervening tragedy then causes a savage rift between Meri and Delia. Miller (The Good Mother ) has written an extremely powerful novel of women, marriage, and friendship. The characters are fascinating, the story engrossing, and the novel incredibly readable. — Library Journal