Feed on
Posts
Comments

Category Archive for 'Book Club Suggestions'

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 »

In this psychological study of Pietro Vella, who is a thirty-year-old teacher in Italy at the beginning of the novel, author Domenico Starnone concentrates on themes of love, the self-knowledge it needs to grow, and the kind of honesty which evolves from the trust and respect which two people must have in each other. The novel opens with Pietro’s early love of Teresa, a wild, brilliant, and impulsive woman, whose relationship with Pietro lasts for three years, before her career beckons. Nadia, Pietro’s next love, with whom he eventually has a family, is Teresa’s opposite, and their decades long marriage and family, become a key to the novel and Pietro’s happiness – or not. The three main characters- Pietro, Nadia, and Teresa – each with his/her own section – provide alternative visions of major events as the characters show their interactions, their love, and their self-awareness – or not – as fifty years pass, lives grow and change, and the characters share their lives with the reader.

Read Full Post »

HARLEM SHUFFLE by Colson Whitehead is a gem of novel, one certain to win both literary prizes and enthusiastic plaudits from its readers. A crime novel which remains both entertaining and filled with warmth toward many of the characters, even those who do not follow the straight and narrow, it shows life as it is and emphasizes the variety of ways that people deal with their difficulties successfully, even when threats and fear become part of the equation. Despite his marginal set of ethics and a neighborhood in which murder is common, Carney as main character remains intriguing and sympathetic in most of his actions. And though he may never be considered a “hero” on a grand scale, he is a hero to many people for his accomplishments and his pragmatic vision of the community’s future possibilities. His innate goodness, even in the most trying times, somehow shines through, often with a touch of humor.

Read Full Post »

Like The Diary of Anne Frank, Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz’s The Passenger is also written by someone who began to write about the horrors of the Holocaust while they were actually happening, and while the author was living through their personal tragedies. Boschwitz’s novel, however, offers a significantly different focus, however, providing additional dimensions of reality while sacrificing some of the intimacy. Boschwitz, author of The Passenger, was twenty-threee and a recent college graduate when he wrote this book over the course of one frantic month in Berlin in the immediate aftermath of Kristallnacht. Creating the fictional story of Otto Silbermann, a married businessman/owner of a successful salvage company in Berlin, Boschwitz gives realistic details about life in the city, describing a man who has always been dedicated to his business and fair to his employees, who loves his family, and who has a long history of hard work, even serving in the German military during World War I. After Kristallnacht, however, as life for Jews throughout Germany becomes ever more difficult, Silbermann finds all escapes from Nazi control closed, and takes what he regards as the only way out. He becomes a “passenger,” a man who travels from city to city by train almost non-stop, sometimes not getting out when he arrives at his “destination” in order to avoid being being identified and possibly arrested for being a Jew. It is a hopeless existence, and his thoughts and actions as he travels ring true.

Read Full Post »

With this “mystery novel,” Argentinian author Claudia Piñeiro writes a far more character-based novel than what I have seen in her previous novels. Here the character of Elena, a particularly iconoclastic and independent thinker in her sixties, becomes the key to solving the “mystery” of daughter Rita’s death and revealing the hidden lives of Elena and Rita, including many of the issues which led to the constant arguments between this mother and daughter. Limited somewhat by a debilitating illness, Elena marshals all her energy to pursue what she considers the incorrect cause of death – suicide, rather than murder – and she will stop at nothing as she begins her own investigation, ignoring the conclusions of the police and the church, and challenging both priests and police officers. At the same time, as she does her own investigation, she brings up a long-ago peripheral case in which she and Rita were on opposite sides of the question of abortion as it related to one of their acquaintances.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »