Sunday, December 10, 2017

Step Across This Line –by Salman Rushdie

Nonfiction / Essays
416 pages / 653 KB
4 Stars

I read, no, make that "devoured," his first collection of essays, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991 and loved every word of it. It struck me as a potpourri of subjects, each essay different from its neighbors. This book seems to be a lot of writing about the same subjects. The writing is clear and enjoyable, but for me, too much almost repetition on a topic. I loved the first section, enjoyed the other sections, started all of the penultimate section—didn't finish most of them, and loved the last section.

Essays are some of my favorite reading, and Mr. Rushdie is marvelous at writing them. His humor comes through, as well as his passion. I have learned a great deal from his essays, especially about living in different countries.

I believe most, if not all of these essays, were previously published in various venues, so some might be familiar to you. Having never read his fiction (on my list) I can't tell you if doing so would make these essays better or not. He begins with an essay about Kansas and how The Wizard of Oz affected him as a child and later his writing.

All in all, I recommend this book. It won't appeal to everyone, nor will all the essays be of equal interest, but all are of equal and high literary value.

Night of the Moths –by Riccardo Bruni (translated by Anne Milano Appel)

Fiction / Mystery
231 pages / 4381 KB
4 Stars

Alice is killed. The village idiot 'confesses' to her murder, and in turn is killed by her father. The murder touches many people, and the boyfriend of Alice moves away. He comes back after 10 years, upsetting the villagers, and finds himself in the midst of the murder, which has long been adjudicated. Or has it?

Alice narrates some of the chapters, so we get a feel for her, as well as those touched by her and her death.

This is a quick read, an afternoon in front of the fire, or on the beach. The original was written in Italian, and seems to have been well translated. This book fits nicely into my category of "Brain Candy."

Saturday, December 9, 2017

This Craft of Verse --by Jorge Luis Borges

Nonfiction / Lectures
169 pages
5 Stars

This is a small book of 6 lectures (Charles Eliot Norton Lectures) delivered at Harvard in 1967. Really, more like conversations with a good friend, nothing like a college lecture. If you are familiar with Borges's writing, these lectures will undoubtedly hold more interest for you. If you aren't familiar, this little book will whet your appetite for his work.

The series was recorded, the tapes lost in the dust of time, and only found and transcribed in 2000. As he asks, "What is time?" If you don't ask him, he knows, if you do ask him, he doesn't. Does it matter the tapes were lost? After all, they have been found.

If words are symbols for shared memories, as he says, then this book will give you new memories, shared with Borges and with all who read the book. What could be better?

Watching the Perseids poems –by Jed Myers

Nonfiction / Poetry
84 pages
5 Stars

This book chronicles the death of Jed Myers's father from a brain tumor. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a book of downer poetry. It is a collection of poems that show the love of a son for his father, his father for the family, the family for each other. This is a collection of love poems about acceptance and survival.

For those of you who have lost a loved one to death, whether through a long illness or suddenly, I think you will be able to relate to these poems, and yes, you may cry as you read some. But you will also smile, and perhaps even chuckle now and then.

Well-crafted, accessible poetry. I look forward to reading more of his work.

Gone on Sunday: A Cotton Lee Penn Historical Mystery Book 1) –by Tower Lowe

Fiction / mystery
295 pages / 598 KB
5 Stars

First off, I should warn you, I read fiction for one reason, and one reason only – to escape my current reality (whatever it is at the moment), and when I read mysteries I do not try to figure out who done it.

I wasn't able to start this book until last night – big mistrake! I read until my eyes burned, the tears flowed, and the words swam uncontrollably about the page. If I'd started it sooner, it would have been a one-sit read!

The idea we can have heroines who are not perfect, who have flaws, whose hair is not plastic, is marvelous. Cotton Lee is not perfect. She has a gimp leg thanks to polio when she was small. She limps. She lives in the South, in Virginia, in 1972 (when the story begins) and is therefore not seen as fully human, but is seen as the "poor thing." Uh-huh. You may be able to walk faster than she can, but she'll take you for a ride. Trust me.

If you liked Blood on the Tracks and Dead Stop by Barbara Nickless, I think you'll really enjoy Gone on Sunday.

Cotton Lee Penn is hired as a private investigator to look into the death of Little Mary whose brutal murder is eerily coincident of her grandmother's murder 40 years prior, in the house next door. Lowe drops clues galore, and I had no idea who done 'em, or why, until she wanted me to. I've lived in the South, and if Lowe hasn't, she surely did her research! (I finished the book and wanted nothing more than to fry up some hush puppies!)

The book goes back and forth between 1932 and 1972. It's easy to follow, as she tells us at the beginning of each chapter when we are. The characters are well written and believable, the stories fascinating, and all is brought to a most satisfactory ending. I truly hope the next Cotton Lee Penn books are coming soon, and will be as much fun as this one. Truly delightful. You done good, Tower Lowe. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

New and Selected Poems --by Mary Oliver

Nonfiction / Poetry
255 pages
5 Stars

I received this book as a gift, and what a treasured gift it is. Ms. Oliver talks about all subjects in her book—life, death, nature--how they are all part of the web of life. I love her poem, White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field. How the beautiful owl drops down out of the freezing sky to find and grab dinner scurrying under the snow. Her words, "maybe death / isn't darkness, after all / but so much light / wrapping itself around us— / as soft as feathers—" brought me to a stop. Yes, that is Death.

I tend to read fast, and know I read this book too fast, too quickly, but I did force myself to take breaks, and often, she forced my breaks with poetry like the above. I had to stop. To think on it.

In looking through the book, I have notes scribbled here and there (a sure sign I love the book, by the way). Oliver's poetry is accessible to, I think, anyone who cares to pick it up and give it a try. One does not need to be a poet, or a reader of poetry, to read her book and fall in love.