Last week was a very busy week for everyone here. Himself did double duty teaching his summer school course and a rocket course for the academic camp on campus. Eldest was a counselor-in-training again for the same camp and helped teach his dad’s class and youngest went on a road trip with a few friends which included calling his mom from Powell’s Books in Portland (totally unfair!). It also meant I looked up books for him (we only use cell phones to call or text). He settled on The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power by Jeff Sharlet.
On the reading front, Himself is reading Catch-22 although he hasn’t had much reading time and is super-stoked to have found his favorite short story on the internet (Arthur C. Clarke’s Rescue Party). I finished Claire de Lune and have started Sugarhouse. I need to finish up The Leftovers by next Monday for book group but I am putting it off till the last minute.
A note about how I put together these posts: I read several book blogs during the week and note which books sound interesting to me. On Sunday’s I reread the posts and come up with my list. This week was especially difficult as I have fifteen books on the list and that is only through Thursday (I still haven’t caught up on my reading from being gone for three days. It is going to be hard to narrow things down.
So here is what caught my interest this week:
The first book I found a few hours too late. I went to one of my book groups on Wednesday and was asked for recommendations. Nothing I came up with seem to suit the participants. Then I came home and read Diane’s (Bibliophile by the Sea) review of The Healing by Jonathan Odell. It fits all the criteria of my book group. They tend to favor historical fiction, it is readily available in our libraries, it has gotten good reviews, and it is about strong women over-coming odds against them. The novel is about three generations of women, “healers”, and spans from the mid-1800’s with its slavery to 1933. This book sounds so good, I may have to send off an email and suggest it that way.
I love the Triple Choice posts at Kimbo’s Reading Matters. This week the post is written by Canadian author Lauren B. Davis (author of Our Daily Bread which is also on my to-be-read list). Her book choice for “a book that deserves a wider audience” is The Friends of Meager Fortune by David Adams Richards, an award-winning Canadian author. First I am inclined to take her suggestion because her favorite book is Plainsong by Kent Haruf. Second, this book has echos of Train Dreams in it but as far as I can tell, it seems more accessible to me. Set in the 1950’s it is the story of Meager Fortune who works in the dying lumber industry. The publisher’s note describes it as a “love story of betrayal, envy, and sexual jealousy, which builds to a tragically inevitable climax.” Davis describes the writer’s work and this book as, “His books are deeply morale and compassionate. His prose has echoes and rhythms you rarely see these days…It is also a hard book to put down, a hard book to forget, a hard book (I admit it) not to weep over.”
I have mentioned before how I grew up with poetry so I was delighted to see Stefanie of So Many Books mention My Poets by Maureen McLane. McLane is both a poet and a critic and My Poets is her discussion of those poets who have impacted her: “I am marking here what most marked me…” This book is part memoir, part criticism and explores what makes a poet and a poem.
Jenny of Shelf Love brings us Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land by John Crowley, which is based on the premise that as Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein, Byron also wrote a novel. Set in two strands, the first is a series of e-mails between a woman, Smith, who is researching Byron’s daughter Ada, (a scientist) for a feminist website, her partner, and her father who happens to be an expert on Byron. Smith discovers a portion of the cipher Ada used to place the novel in a code and goes searching for the novel. The second strand is the novel itself. Jenny says “This book is rich and satisfying, and also tremendous fun.” Sounds like a great summer read.
If you are more interested in short stories, Gavin of Page 247 has a brief review of Clark Blaise’s 2011 collection The Meagre Tarmac. Blaise is married to Indian-Born American author Bharati Mukherjee and he has both traveled extensively in India as well as collaborated on projects with his wife. This collection of stories focuses on Indian immigrants and their children. Even though Blaise is not Indian, reviews say he brings a sympathy and depth to tradition and family and the clash of cultures both old and new.