This is an "audiobook" that is very short, just over an hour, which Ms. Welty reads herself. I took a Southern Literature class my senior year of high...moreThis is an "audiobook" that is very short, just over an hour, which Ms. Welty reads herself. I took a Southern Literature class my senior year of high school and fell in love with Flannery O'Conner and her. Shortly thereafter I got to hear Ms. Welty speak and read some of her work at an event in Chattanooga. Her rich voice is the sweet sound that make the truth more than just bearable, and even in her at times uncomfortable honesty I found myself hoping there was more.(less)
The story of The Crow and the Lamb was an incredible story, but the remainder of the book was dull at best. The only thing that surpassed my surprise...moreThe story of The Crow and the Lamb was an incredible story, but the remainder of the book was dull at best. The only thing that surpassed my surprise was my disappointment. While it's possible that the other Sedaris works which I thought were wonderful and hilarious caused me to set the bar too high for Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, but I doubt it.(less)
Although I’m not much of a fantasy fan, I’m a huge fan of allegories or messages firmly planted at the heart of a story, which is why I s...moreThe 13th Sign
Although I’m not much of a fantasy fan, I’m a huge fan of allegories or messages firmly planted at the heart of a story, which is why I so enjoyed The 13th Sign. There is little preparation needed or taken as the story takes off immediately of a young lady who’s mistake causes mayhem among the zodiac, and thus all mankind.
The story is fueled by the suspense of waiting to see what the next sign will be, what will it take to overcome each challenge, and what attributes will each zodiac have. All of this happens with a ticking clock that will make all personality changes permanent.
The message at the story’s heart is a wonderful destination, and adds to the journey’s enjoyment. It is one I’m glad I got to make. (less)
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is an incredible story about the families of Himmel Street in Munich as the doom of WWII approaches, and is a story nar...moreThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak is an incredible story about the families of Himmel Street in Munich as the doom of WWII approaches, and is a story narrated by Death. Centered around two adolescences, Rudy Steiner and Liesel Meminger, Death tells us of the events seen through their eyes. Of course the reader already knows what is coming, and the destruction war will bring. The only question is who will survive.The dignity of mankind is a survivor. The horror and hatred created by man could not extinguish the fruit of love and compassion. That is reason enough to read The Book Keeper, but it is also a story well told.
I was very surprised by The Help, although I don’t know why. I had not heard a single disparaging comment about Kathryn Stockett’s first novel, and mo...moreI was very surprised by The Help, although I don’t know why. I had not heard a single disparaging comment about Kathryn Stockett’s first novel, and most folks I know had already read the book and loved it. I think my surprise was born from my own prejudice, in this case the empty useless idea that if it is popular it for some reason is vacant and shallow.
Very early I on I realized that this might be a very uncomfortable read. Skeeter and her contemporaries are the age of my parents. Born in 1963 the eldest son of a small town banker, I was blessed in many respects that my mother had help and I had these ladies in my life. I don’t recall us using that term, help. Maid seemed to be the public description, but more often than not we simply referred to these women by their first name. Asalee was the first help I remember, and she was with us until I was about 9 or 10. She got on at one of the hosiery mills, and slowly moved out of our lives. Imogene quickly took her place, and remained with my mother until my parents moved to Knoxville in 1995.
I hate the term “white guilt” because to me it minimizes the effects of 400 years of slavery and oppression, and sounds to my ear more suited for someone cheating on their diet. White shame carries more truth in my mind. I recall two instances from my childhood where I felt shame, though I could not identify it at the time. I was riding with my mother to pick-up Asalee, and as she came out of her front door I could see her children watching her leave to come to my house. I felt like a thief. I also remember being about six, and as Asalee stood ironing in the doorway at the top of the two steps that separated and elevated the kitchen above the den, her “show” was interrupted by a news report about race riots. I don’t recall the city. Seeing these images on the screen, I very quickly felt the need to tell Asalee that I loved even if she was black. The gravity and power of The Help resurrected these childhood memories in a very real and tangible way.
This power is generated by because Ms. Stockett does not flinch in showing us the reality of the society in Jackson, Mississippi. I think this is especially important at the end of the story, because there was no real change in that society. Hilly is the best example because she is still lying, threatening, and working harder than ever to keep her boot firmly on the necks of those she feels are beneath her. Maids lose their jobs, violence is still a very real possibility, a marriage ends, and the horrible structure of racial prejudice remains firmly in place.
However, there is incredible change in the lives of these women, and their relationship to one another. Fear and the contemptuous resentment that comes from not giving a damn about another human being is replaced with understanding, empathy, respect, and ultimately friendship.
After a couple of hundred warm up pages, building energy like a good roller coaster, the uphill clicking stopped, and The Girl Who Played with Fire b...more After a couple of hundred warm up pages, building energy like a good roller coaster, the uphill clicking stopped, and The Girl Who Played with Fire began the thrilling ride that occurs when great characters are propelled by the gravity of a suspenseful plot. Then tragedy reared its ugly unbelievable head. In what could be the biggest “what the hell?” moment in modern literature, Lisbeth, Blomkvist, and even the giant, were attacked by what can only be described as Daffey Duck using the worst Acme products available to create a bad reenactment of “it was all just a dream Pam. Bobby Ewing lives”. I was strapped in, hard core clinging to the story with all my might, thinking this could be an incredibly bold move, and possibly the most exciting precipice of any novel I’ve ever read. The story doesn’t just brake, it’s pre-empted by Elmer Fudd and the Wonder Twins. Even the giant, who to this point was truly frightening, and the explanation of what made him so dangerous totally believable, is turned into a bad imitation of Hee Man, but without the believability. You don’t have to worry about this review containing spoilers, because I’m embarrassed to admit that I read the whole thing!
I just was never able to connect with this book. I would have an image in my mind or a place, and the next phrase would contradict my imagination's co...moreI just was never able to connect with this book. I would have an image in my mind or a place, and the next phrase would contradict my imagination's construct, and orientation of the plot. (less)
Start by pushing a large bolder up hill, until you are just about to decide that you’ve had all this fun you can stand, the apex of the hill is finall...moreStart by pushing a large bolder up hill, until you are just about to decide that you’ve had all this fun you can stand, the apex of the hill is finally reached, and gravity assumes its traditional role. Now the journey becomes much easier, and at times is very exciting. However, eventually the terrain flattens, and although you are not having to push up hill anymore, there is clearly more work ahead. While there are moments of interest, and even a few thrills, monotony soon sets in, and you find your thought drifting to the contents of the DVR. Finally the downhill grade becomes steeper, and once again the ride quickens your pulse. Now things get good. The bad guy falls for the trap, the good guy gets vindicated and the girl, the gets a healed heart and the finish line of happily ever after grows on the horizon. Ultimately this adventure of hard work, suspense and is overshadowed by tragedy and the disappointment of unrequited love. That’s sort of what it was like reading Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by Tom Clancy, Stephen King and John Grisham.(less)
My first reaction to Nashville Skyline, my gut response, was that I didn’t like it at all. After becoming very acquainted with the substantial blessin...moreMy first reaction to Nashville Skyline, my gut response, was that I didn’t like it at all. After becoming very acquainted with the substantial blessings of the main character, Harvard educated Dr. Gabe Rutherford; it is maddening to see him treat them with such carelessness. I think however that to illicit such a visceral emotional response from the reader is prima fascia evidence of a fine, well written story. The journey through loss, acceptance, and redemption, seasoned with love, anger and regret, ultimately creates a mixture and taste that is immediately identified. Often times the gravity of an event in one’s life is so great that it determines the shape of that artist‘s work. The strength needed to acknowledge and use that gravity to propel a story, is quite extraordinary. When that event is a loved one’s suicide, the strength needed is almost unfathomable. Ultimately, I believe that Dr. Fesmire was able to imbue his main character Dr. Rutherford with that same strength that leads to acceptance and faith.