Feed on
Posts
Comments

Category Archive for 'United States'

Following the narrative pattern of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, author Jillian Cantor focuses primarily on three young women, all of whom appear in the Gatsby book. Three “Gatsby women,” all originally from Louisville, Kentucky, are the main focus here: Daisy, who becomes the wife of the almost impossibly wealthy Tom Buchanan; Jordan Baker, Daisy’s close friend, a golfer who is on the tour though accused in a major scandal; and Catherine McCoy, a lesser developed character who attends women’s suffrage meetings and who is the sister of Myrtle Wilson, a married woman who is profiting from her role as the secret lover of Tom Buchanan. Their stories rotate throughout, often overlap, and provide the structure of the novel. At the same time, a new character, Detective Frank Charles from New York, appears at key points in 1922, after the death of Jay Gatsby, as he investigates that death, the characters associated with Gatsby, and the clues that have developed, including the discovery of a diamond hair pin at the murder scene. While Beautiful Little Fools is certainly not a feminist tract, it does illustrate how different the outcomes might have been in Fitzgerald’s Gatsby if the position of women, their own expectations, the expectations of them by others, and the culture in which they lived had been significantly different.

Read Full Post »

In her latest study of an animal species, Audrey Schulman focuses on dolphins, their intelligence, their verbalization, their relationships with humans and each other, and the possibility that they may be able to initiate communication with humans if they and the humans can evolve a common language.  Set in St. Thomas, and based on research done in the mid-1960s (and continuing to the present), her main character, Cora, lives with the dolphins and eventually focuses on a particular one, with whom she shares a “homearium,” living in the dry section of the building, while “Junior” lives in the sea section, which overlaps with it. Fascinating work involving animal behavior and speech.

Read Full Post »

Author Lily King, a widely honored author of novels, has just published her first collection of stories, Five Tuesdays in Winter, and what a collection it is. Filled with references to famous writers and their writing, the collection also features the writing of her own characters, such as a young teen writing diary entries and imagining life events, and a young mother trying to find time to examine life and write while taking care of a toddler. Throughout, King herself conveys the urgency of creation through stories so intense and so genuine that this book makes her own creations “blow past all the fixed boundaries of art – of life.” There is an intimacy to her stories which brings them to life in new ways, whether they be stories featuring a teenage babysitter, a shy older man who begins to experience real love for the first time, an attentive mother spoiling her selfish daughter, or characters both gay and straight as they realize who they are. Some characters here are disturbed, some are fun-loving, and at least one is a ghost, but virtually all the main characters are appealing as they deal with life’s twists and turns, and Lily King allows the reader to connect with them all.

Read Full Post »

I have never thought of Louise Erdrich as a particularly humorous author, but the opening chapter of this novel, “Time In Time Out,” had me chuckling nonstop at the wry humor and irony for all thirty pages. Tookie, the narrator, wastes no time introducing herself, explaining in the opening sentence that “While in prison, I received a dictionary. It was sent to me with a note. This is the book I would take to a deserted island,” a book she had received from a former teacher. Tookie, released from prison in her thirties, “still parties, drinking and drugging like I [am] seventeen,” and she admits that she does not yet know who she is. Finding a job becomes difficult until she talks with “Louise,” who runs a bookstore in MInneapolis, Birch Bark Books, which becomes a setting and includes “Louise.” Since author Louise Erdrich herself also owns a bookstore called Birch Bark Books, the identifications are real. Characters come to life as history takes place, with Covid playing a strong role in the action, as does the death of George Floyd. A book which focuses on books, readers, and authors, this will appeal to a wide range of readers.

Read Full Post »

The death of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till by lynching in Money, Mississippi, in 1955, serves as the starting point for a broad look at racial crime, the people who participate in it, their families, and the society in which they live and perpetuate their own version of “justice.” Author Percival Everett treats Till’s murder and those which follow with the seriousness they deserve, but he also keeps a light, often absurd touch, preventing the reader from becoming so overwhelmed by issues that s/he becomes inured to the individual horrors. Characters have unexpected names (Pinch Wheyface and Pick L. Dill, for example), and ignorance and profanity play a big role here as the murderers of Emmett, all from the same family, themselves become the victims of vengeance by unknown people. Roles get reversed, black investigators take precedence over local white police, and as lynchings spread throughout the country, they ultimately become an issue involving an unnamed former President. Unique and unforgettable in its presentation, format, and messaging.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »