Waited 17 years and finally got around to reading this book. Terrific political novel based in part on, or inspired by, the 1992 presidential campaign...moreWaited 17 years and finally got around to reading this book. Terrific political novel based in part on, or inspired by, the 1992 presidential campaign. I found the book's greatest strength in its quirky cast of supporting characters. Loved the Libby character, and the Richard character's dialogue struck me as a spot-on James Carville imitation. A quick, fun read.(less)
I breezed through Mark Childress's One Mississippi in a week of casual reading. Set in the early 1970s, Childress brings the Mississippi background to...moreI breezed through Mark Childress's One Mississippi in a week of casual reading. Set in the early 1970s, Childress brings the Mississippi background to life and incorporates a continual flow of laugh-out-loud moments. It's a coming-of-age novel that addresses serious topics, primarily interracial romance in the deep South ten years after the Civil Rights Movement. While the story is lighthearted, it contains several tragic moments, including the final scene, which I won't spoil. Honestly, I hated to see the story end the way it did--not because it wasn't well done, but because the author had done an effective job of bringing the reader alongside the character and his personal heartache. Then again, I've had readers say the same thing about my own novels!
One Mississippi contains a cameo appearance from Sonny and Cher that you don't want to miss. Childress incorporates them as minor character who interact with the main characters in chapter 19. It's absolutely hilarious! I wish I'd have thought of the idea myself.
A great book. I'm a sucker for rich, layered characters in a lighthearted setting, and Childress nailed it with a full spectrum of them.(less)
Absolutely addictive! When it came to Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, I had to force myself to stop reading and missed reading it when I couldn’t....moreAbsolutely addictive! When it came to Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, I had to force myself to stop reading and missed reading it when I couldn’t.
Set in the future, the novel is the first in a trilogy and centers around two main characters, Katniss and Peeta, teenagers who live in the land mass that once constituted the continental United States. The new kingdom is Panem, a portrait of a society dominated by unfettered Socialism: Individuals become pawns and tools. Life is held without value, traded or ended at the will of a government authority. In Panem, we see a ruling class and an underclass, where the ruling class dominates by fear and oppression. Government controls the food supply, and thus controls the existence of its people.
The lack of hope in the citizens’ lives breaks your heart. It’s a dark existence, the type of Socialist society we knew about before the fall of Communism began in 1989, only much worse.
Once a year, to tamp down dreams of rebellion, the Panem government forces each of its districts to sacrifice two teenaged citizens to compete in The Hunger Games, where participants fight to the death, and the winner—the last man or woman standing—is rewarded with a year’s food supply for the district. And it is broadcast live on television, from participant selection to preparation to the competition itself.
Enter District 12. Enter Katniss and Peeta.
Picture Lord of the Flies meets reality TV. I’ve always loved the concept behind Lord of the Flies and have wanted to create something akin to it for today. Well, Suzanne Collins beat me to the punch and served up a TKO. The Hunger Games is one of those books I wish I’d written myself. Highly recommended. I’ve already started reading the second book.(less)
"And it seemed to him, as he sank back into his dreams, that she had as good as spoken aloud. About your son, she seemed to be saying: Just put your h...more"And it seemed to him, as he sank back into his dreams, that she had as good as spoken aloud. About your son, she seemed to be saying: Just put your hand here [cesarean scar]. I'm scarred, too. We're all scarred. You are not the only one." (Tyler, Ann. The Accidental Tourist, Chapter 11)
Anne Tyler's The Accidental Tourist is a character study on how different people sort through painful experiences in life. After having my eye on the book for years, I decided to delve into it at long last!
Macon Leary, the main character, suffered the loss of his 12-year-old son. He and his wife, Sarah, have discovered they have little in common and have pursued a legal separation. Sarah has moved out of the house.
Macon writes travel guidebooks for travelers who don't want to leave home, such as businessmen. In his guides, Macon helps such travelers make their ways through unfamiliar cities while experiencing as little of those cities' unfamiliarity as possible. In other words, he helps them maintain a cocoon-like existence.
Macon himself has managed to maintain a cocoon-based life. He thrives on the predictable and possesses an unbalanced suspicion of the unpredictable--which probably explains Tyler's choice of the character's last name, Leary (a form of "leery". After attempts to branch out in life, Macon's siblings have managed to return to a sheltered, communal existence within the family home. As the story unfolds, Tyler weaves in a fascinating look at the background of Macon and his family. In doing so, she digs into Macon's psyche to produce a believable character. As you read about Macon's psychological issues as a child caused by instability in his family, you develop and understanding of why Macon and his siblings are, to put it bluntly, screwed up as adults. They are adults who lacked a proper opportunity to experience a normal childhood.
Tyler provides a subplot surrounding Macon's dog, which has grown unruly and has developed a habit of biting people that enter its own cocoon. To help train the dog, enter Muriel, a divorced mother of a young child. Despite her eccentricities, Muriel bears scars of her own. The dog, like Macon, resists and fights change in its life. As Muriel trains the dog to accept change, she also teaches Macon how to step beyond his own limited existence and to embrace change. She helps Macon face the loss of his son and determine his next step in life. Macon has his systems to avoid change; Muriel has her technique to make change palatable and achievable, albeit for dogs.
One word of warning: The story is quite sad as it takes the reader into the characters' pain. This is not an "upper" of a story, and even the ending, although fitting for the characters, felt disturbing and sad. So before entering their world, be prepared for a heavy story with solid insight into the struggles of those who might live just next door.
The novel's strongest suit is its well-drawn characters. The story isn't as much about plot as it is about the internal growth of the characters as they sort through hurt and confusion. In this, Tyler has proven successful.(less)
In Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson peels away the layers of a broken heart and traces its step-by-step journey to find emotional healing. Anderson chose...moreIn Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson peels away the layers of a broken heart and traces its step-by-step journey to find emotional healing. Anderson chose to work within a first-person narrative. The prose is blunt and contains minimal window dressing. Anderson made a wise choice: when someone endures the type of mental and emotional turmoil the main character endures, she wouldn't feel motivated to go into detail. In fact, narrative is external (words) and mimics the main character's struggle to gather the courage to vocalize the hurt and rage that boil within.
Anderson digs deep to expose complexity in the simple. She delves into the psychology of the victim. The novel seems to reveal little in its first half, but again, this mimics real life: the main character finds it difficult to trust, so she spends the first half of the book building trust with the character. As you listen to her daily observations on life, she begins to trust the reader a gives a glimpse of her inner pain. In fact, I believe a second read would reveal depths in the first half that seemed insignificant the first time around.