Friday, July 31, 2020
Brooklyn, Colm Toibin
This is a very fine novel that I was resistant to reading for a long time. It sat on my shelf despite the urging of several friends who loved it. But after seeing the movie, I wanted to read the book. And I am glad that I did.
There are no jobs to be had in Eilis Lacey's hometown in Ireland. Reluctantly she sets sail for New York where a priest has secured her a job and place to live. She is nearly overwhelmed by homesickness--and I don't think I ever read such a great description of it--but eventually settles into her new life and finds a beau. A sudden death calls her home again and she must decide where her future lies.
What makes this novel work so well is how much inside the head of his character Toibin gets. And I am truly amazed at how well he does a female voice. And how well he seems to understand how a girl feels about a multitude of issues.
Eilis is utterly believable as a very nice girl with very nice friends and a very nice family. The descriptions of Brooklyn life in the fifties are terrific.
If I found one flaw in the book, it would be there was so little conflict or strife for Eilis. I am sure an immigrant coming here with no friends of family to succor them would find life a lot harder. And the ending is perhaps too swift.
But this is a small flaw in a wonderful novel.
Thursday, July 30, 2020
Monday, July 27, 2020
Friday, July 24, 2020
Gerald Candless is a famous British writer who dies suddenly much to the sorrow of his daughters and puzzlement of his wife. Their marriage has always been odd to say the least. She has functioned more as a typist and sometimes muse than a wife. However the girls adore him and the oldest decides to write a biography about him.
This proves to be a difficult task as there are many blind alleys in his life. Is he even Gerald Candless?
And the reader is left with mysteries of her own at the book's end. Why did a man so mistreated by society mistreat his wife. Why did he undermine his daughter's relationship with their mother. Yes, we feel sorry for Gerald, but we also loathe many things about him.
This is a complex, complicated book, which I could not put down. Rendell does a wonderful job of showing what life was like in various time periods. Not one character is a cliche. Truly a terrific book. And she integrates his writing wonderfully into both his life and that of his wife's.
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
Monday, July 20, 2020
Friday, July 17, 2020
Monday, July 13, 2020
Friday, July 10, 2020
Its the inner world that Slouka is concerned with here anyway. It's the past, not the present, that has a enormous affect on these lives.
Jon Mosher has always felt like an outsider in his town because of his parents’ roots as German-Jewish émigrés and the accidental death of his older brother. The death of his brother has destroyed his family and especially his mother, who like the mother in ORDINARY PEOPLE seems to hold him responsible for being the one who survived. Spending your life dodging your mother's disdain for you takes its toll.
He begins to run track on his high-school team and becomes friends with: Frank Krapinski, a Christian, and a talented athlete; volatile Ray Cappiciano, who comes to school bearing the bruises of constant fistfights; and Karen Dorsey, who falls for Ray.
Ray’s alcoholic father, a WWII veteran possessed of a raging temper, takes an interest in Jon. And Jon's damaged mother has a fondness for Ray, confounding both boys.
The four teens bond in their desire to leave their damaged lives and working class town behind. It is only gradually they see that you can never leave the past behind. This book is about the solace, the support, and the gift of friendship and loyalty among teens who feel they are powerless.
This was a hard book to read in many ways and it is certainly more noir than more books touted as such. But every moment felt real. Highly recommended.
Thursday, July 09, 2020
Phil's grandfather's house after massive renovation. It is now a B and B Donkey Barges on the canal
Train Station in New Hope
This happened several times during the summer. Only at night, only when there was candlelight and music. It was not alcohol or drug enhanced in case you are wondering.
Monday, July 06, 2020
Friday, July 03, 2020
Eight stories tracing the growth of the child, Elizabeth Kessler, over a ten-year period (ages 7-17) during the 1950s was published as The Elizabeth Stories by Oberon Press in 1984, and in 1987 by Viking Penguin in Great Britain and the United States, where it won the Quality Paperback New Voice Award in 1988 as well as the Best Fiction Prize from the Denver Quarterly. Huggan has won many awards for her writing.
I read the book in 1988 and enjoyed these stories about a girlhood in a small Ontario town very much. Elizabeth has a difficult mother who regards propriety as overly important. She is often misunderstood, often plays a subsidiary role in these stories but never plays a victim. I see this book is now categorized as YA but I don't remember it as anything other than a book of related stories about growing up. Are we not meant to take childhood seriously as adults? Huggan is a lovely writer and this is a model on how to write related stories.
Wednesday, July 01, 2020
Poet of Tolstoy Park, Sonny Brewer
Strangers on a Train, Patricia Highsmith
These Hills Are Made of Gold, Pam Zhang
Eight Perfect Murders, Peter Swanson
Nothing to See Here, Kevin Wilson
Born a Crime, Trevor Noah
Between Them, Remembering My Parents, Richard Ford
Two crime novels, one old, one new; two memoirs; three mainstream novels. I also read some scattered short stories. And I started at least four books I gave up on. I started one last night and gave up after 25 pages. It's usually the voice with me--just can't picture spending time with that person. Or the setting-in this case the Chicago World's Fair-I've been there already with Erik Larson (Devil in the White City). I will try it again in daytime. Sometime that has an affect on my reading.
How often do you put a book aside and then return to it?