Miss Jane is the story of Miss Jane Chisholm, born in early 20th century Missisippi, in a very rural setting, with birth defects, genital birth defectMiss Jane is the story of Miss Jane Chisholm, born in early 20th century Missisippi, in a very rural setting, with birth defects, genital birth defects, that will affect her entire life. The local doctor who delivers her, discovers, and later researches her physical deficits, and remains a major force in her life. This story is apparently based on the life of a distant relative of the author.
Miss Jane is a novel of self, but not selfishness, of persistence in the face of major physical difficulties that interfere with basic human relationships, of acceptance of limits while still working to maximize life within them. We watch Jane live amid the hardscrabble life of a farm family along with the differences her body requires. She is often an observer, but with the suitably childlike awe of her age. We see the natural world around her, including the erotic observations she is initially too young to understand. And we watch her mature and become an adult.
This is a beautifully written novel, delicately written, observant of a beautiful young woman who truly lives a separate life in many ways, observant of what is now a distant rural past, observant of a natural world in all its beauty and sometime cruelty.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review....more
Faulkner is one of my favorite authors and, although this is not one of my favorite of his books, it has so many powerful offerings, I have overlookedFaulkner is one of my favorite authors and, although this is not one of my favorite of his books, it has so many powerful offerings, I have overlooked the occasional polemics (instead of conversation between characters) to give it a very good rating. It's heart is in the right place and most of the writing is too.
Lucas Beauchamp has been arrested for the murder of a white man; for shooting him in the back of all things! And there the story would lie except that a white boy, an older white woman and a black boy decide to look into his story and uncork a genie's bottle.The adventure tale/mystery is rather fun and exciting at times with the outcome not clear until the very end. The truths about human nature that Faulkner/Gavin Stevens provides are elemental, honest, not pretty, but highly educational.
Yes some things you must always be unable to bear. Some things you must never stop refusing to bear. Injustice and outrage and dishonor and shame. No matter how young you are or how old you have got. Not for kudos and not for cash: your picture in the paper nor money in the bank either. Just refuse to bear them. (loc 2803)
My only real concern about this novel is the amount of time given to "speechifying." I wonder if this is because it is later in Faulkner's work and he continues to see the same problems/errors/sins being repeated over and over around him. Perhaps he felt the need to speak out more forcefully here through Stevens' mouth to young Chick's ear. This boy is the future of the South perhaps, the future of Faulkner's county....more
Welcome to Braggsville is T. Geronimo Johnson's biting, loving, sparkling and spot-on satire of this US of A and especially matters of race, educationWelcome to Braggsville is T. Geronimo Johnson's biting, loving, sparkling and spot-on satire of this US of A and especially matters of race, education, politics, regionalism and so many other "isms" (that we see before us on the news daily--a hyper reality now that has blossomed further since he wrote this book).
In the basic tale, D'aron Davenport (who will henceforth have to justify, explain and possibly change or defend the spelling of his name) makes the decision to apply to UCBerkeley in order to get away from the small town existence of his home town in Georgia. It takes time, but eventually D'aron makes friends in Louis, the wanna-be comedian, Candice from Iowa with ultra do-good intentions, and Charlie, a thoughtful, and younger, kid from Chicago. They become the "4 Little Indians."
And then there is an Alternative History class. Yes this is Berkeley. And D'aron happens to mention the Civil War reenactment held annually in his hometown. The class is aghast, yes aghast! And plans are made. Performance art, no "performance intervention" is the term. Berkeley will go to Braggsville in the persons of the 4 Little Indians. And the rest is, as they say, the rest of the story. And oh what a story.
Satire done well is amazing; it takes no prisoners. I'm reminded of reading Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal many years ago, while in college. The reader is forced to confront many things (or ignore reality). Here the reader may see themselves in the students, the parents, the townspeople of Braggsville, the news media from out of town. The "guilty," the "innocent," (if indeed such titles possibly apply), the professors at Berkeley, whomever. Perhaps a little of everyone.
Johnson uses a variety of writing styles. The mood, changing tempos, writing style and language all seem to feed the story for me. And masterful use of satire blasts away in all directions. (With little trickles of insight being shown in some characters)
I do recommend this book highly but be aware it is not easy or comfortable. Satire is intended to arouse emotion AND thought. ...more
Nine Live is an excellent story of New Orleans as seen through these nine individuals and the lives they touch. As much as I have read about the effecNine Live is an excellent story of New Orleans as seen through these nine individuals and the lives they touch. As much as I have read about the effects of Katrina on the city and its people, this was eye-opening. And that is because of Dan Baum's reporting, his listening, and the access the many people of New Orleans allowed him. As he wrote in his Acknowledgments:
but as a reporter, I really must thank everybody I encountered in New Orleans--from the po'boy sellers and street musicians to the cops and hat merchants and the tattooed ex-con who fixed my car--for building a culture where nothing is ever "none of your business." One really can't ask a question in New Orleans that is too personal, even of a total stranger. For someone in my unseemly profession, it's paradise.
Baum's subjects in Nine Lives are teachers, cops, housewives, mothers and fathers, criminals, transsexual bar owners, a member of one of the old gentry. Through them we see the history of New Orleans, good and bad, the spirit of the city, the encroachment of drugs and guns, the vitality of the Lower Ninth in spite of lack of services, the wonder of Mardi Gras and the spirit of the city, racial inequities, crooked politics, and struggles on all sides. But the story builds and builds to what the reader knows will be Katrina. And that is overwhemingly powerful.
To hear from the coroner, Frank Minyard, who admits he has not lived as an angel in his highly political position: Still no helicopters. Frank couldn't understand it. If the water was this deep here, right in middle of the city, all of New Orleans must be underwater. Thousands of people must be trapped, dying. Where is the army? Where are the feds?
For anyone interested in New Orleans of old or its still ongoing attempts at rebirth, this is a book you should read. I have to admit there are parts that made me angry all over again but there are parts that make me proud and glad to know of so many people who have chosen to stay and work to keep that city and its people, their home, alive and vibrant.
This is my first venture into Ron Rash territory. The combination of a plot composed of conflicted, damaged and well written characters, incredibly deThis is my first venture into Ron Rash territory. The combination of a plot composed of conflicted, damaged and well written characters, incredibly descriptive prose alternating with actual poetry, and a story that, though set in the American South, could be moved elsewhere with small changes...has made me an instant fan.
Rash has combined stories of small town corruptions--crystal meth's inroads and the crimes that come with it, the individual "turning of the head" of an otherwise seemingly honest public official, a local business man who surrounds himself with armed bodyguards--with stories of fragility--a woman survivor of a childhood nightmare, an old man struggling without the son he loved and ornery to the rest of the world. And behind and beyond them is the natural world, struggling to maintain itself in the face of man's onslaught.
Becky, the fragile survivor, tells her story partly in poetry and thinks frequently of the Lascaux cave paintings and Hopkins' poetry. She is a Park ranger and respects land and nature. Les, the Sheriff, about to retire, is not fragile, but has his own fault lines below the surface.
Into this stew there are crimes and insinuations, threats and promises. Through it all the writing is wonderful.
A mown hay field appears, its blond stubble blackened by a flock of starlings. As I pass, the field seems to lift, peek to see what's under itself, then resettle. A pickup passes from the other direction. The flock lifts again and this time keeps rising, a narrow swirl as if sucked through a pipe and then an unfurl of rhythm sudden sprung, becoming one entity as it wrinkles, smooths out, drifts down like a snapped bedsheet. Then swerves and shifts, gathers and twists. Murmuration: ornithology's word-poem for what I see. Two hundred starlings at most, but in Europe sometimes ten thousand, enough to punctuate a sky. What might a child see? A magic carpet made suddenly real? Ocean fish-schools swimming air? The flock turns west and disappears. (p 104)
Here are a couple of themes that recur throughout the book--observing the world of nature and seeing the world through the eyes of a child (while also perhaps trying to preserve some of it for future children).