For those unfamiliar with HIV/AIDS, there is much to learn from MY DREAM TO TRAMPLE AIDS. In it, there is both historical information, charting the di...moreFor those unfamiliar with HIV/AIDS, there is much to learn from MY DREAM TO TRAMPLE AIDS. In it, there is both historical information, charting the disease, medical information, and speeches the author has given, with participant reactions included. Most importantly, Carrel shares his own story, and relates experiences he had watching cherished friends perished, and it was those personal recollections which resonated most fully with me. I'm proud of Carrel for his efforts to let everyone know that AIDS can be fought, with education, knowledge, and passion.(less)
In this well-documented biography, Alina Oswald introduces us to a photographer, Kurt Weston, who in losing his eyesight due to HIV-related illness. S...moreIn this well-documented biography, Alina Oswald introduces us to a photographer, Kurt Weston, who in losing his eyesight due to HIV-related illness. So challenged, Weston must learn how to use his artistry in different ways, and his photographs help give voice to his story. Oswald details his journey, and met with both Weston and numerous associates to ensure all elements of his life were captured. Given that so many in our community have perished, it is essential that we hang on to as many stories as possible and I'm grateful Oswald has documented this tale of hope and continuing to fight, despite the odds.(less)
Being bounced between foster homes would’ve been traumatic for anyone, but for Sara Butler, the experience has enshrouded her youth in a haze, with th...moreBeing bounced between foster homes would’ve been traumatic for anyone, but for Sara Butler, the experience has enshrouded her youth in a haze, with the lingering question of “where did I come from?” hovering above. Visions come to her, but what they reveal is hard to determine. Are they remnants from her past? Are they dreams? Is she going crazy? As painful as revisiting her past may be, Sara realizes that doing so is essential if she is ever to reclaim her sense of self and put the ghosts finally to rest. In PATCHWORK OF ME, Gregory G. Allen has deftly created a multilayered lead character, and Sara's search for self and family makes for a compelling journey.(less)
In today's rush and hurried world, there is something to be said for gentle, entertaining characters and good storytelling. In Carey Parrish's BIG BUS...moreIn today's rush and hurried world, there is something to be said for gentle, entertaining characters and good storytelling. In Carey Parrish's BIG BUSINESS, different lives in England intersect as both flatmates and intriguing visitors converge on Number 59 Kensington Street, run by a charming landlady, who has secrets of her own. While BIG BUSINESS is a sequel to his MARENGO, which I've yet to read, BIG BUSINESS easily stands on its own two feet and is a lovely, zippy read.
Parrish expertly guides readers along the journey, ensuring that a good time is had by all. Like a fun Maeve Binchy, the characters are warm and lovable and the adventure enjoyable. The writing is tight and the tale breezy and fun. Such stories, while appearing simple and straightforward, are very deceptive and can easily fall flat if not well told, but in Parrish's skilled hands, you'll want to return to the world of Number 59 Kensington Street again and again. When is the next one, Mr. Parrish?(less)
THE VALUE OF RAIN isn't for everyone. It is hard-hitting, brutally honest, and at time terrifically unpleasant. But for those up to following Charles...moreTHE VALUE OF RAIN isn't for everyone. It is hard-hitting, brutally honest, and at time terrifically unpleasant. But for those up to following Charles on his journey, a rewarding ride is in store. A mix of striking horror and eloquent prose, the story follows Charles as he attempts to both understand and put to rest the demons of his past. For him, the future is unclear, but he knows that in order to even have a future, he must deal with his past. A heartfelt and compelling tale of trying to find one's self, when quicksand seems to be all around you. (less)
A fun and frothy romp! Looking for a fast and sassy read, full of laughs and good cheer? "On Picking Fruit" delivers all this, and more, as the lead c...moreA fun and frothy romp! Looking for a fast and sassy read, full of laughs and good cheer? "On Picking Fruit" delivers all this, and more, as the lead character searches for love in NY, only to encounter everyones worst dating nightmares. Whether you are a romantic or the most cynical of readers, "On Picking Fruit" will leave you with a smile on your face and hope in your heart. (less)
As the title indicates, the evocative "Well With My Soul" journeys into matters of the spirit, asking the central question, "Who are we, at our core--...moreAs the title indicates, the evocative "Well With My Soul" journeys into matters of the spirit, asking the central question, "Who are we, at our core--and is that a good place to be???" Following two starkly different brothers, the tale juxtaposes their home life in the rural South with New York and all of the temptations a dazzling city can bring. Author Gregory G. Allen paints a startling portrait of the dark side of that Studio 54 world, with the characters attempting to reconcile who they think they are meant to be with what is truly in their hearts. "Well With My Soul" takes us on a surprising, disturbing, and ultimately rewarding ride as the brothers divergent paths intersect and they attempt to find redemption, both with each other and within themselves. At times humorous, and others heartbreaking, the novel left this reader examining his own path and choices, to make sure that, indeed, all is well with my soul...(less)
The following review comes from a post of mine on recent Swedish efforts, including the tv series "The Killing" and the "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"...moreThe following review comes from a post of mine on recent Swedish efforts, including the tv series "The Killing" and the "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Millenium series. For the entire post, please go to: http://kerganedwards-stout.com/swedis...
This section on the novel comes mid-post:
“My Brother and His Brother”, a terrific new book I recently discovered by Swedish author Håkan Lindquist, shares this complex balancing act, leaving the reader thoroughly entranced in the process. Acclaimed in both Sweden and France, the author himself has finally translated his own work into English, much to his audience’s benefit.
A slim novel, “My Brother” quickly brings readers into the world of Jonas Lundberg, a young boy who has grown up in the shadow of his deceased older brother, Paul. Never having known Paul, as he was born after his death, Jonas is drawn to the stories he’s heard about him, and finds himself being pulled inexplicably towards the details of Paul’s tragic death. Was it an accident, as he has always been told, or is something more at play?
Billed as a mystery, while there are such elements, the novel never feels gimmicky. There is never an appearance by a hardened detective, or a villain, smoothing their mustache with a smirk. Rather, it is an evocative and subtle look into one boy’s pain — indeed, his family’s — and how by unraveling the mysteries of the past, this teenager is able come into his own, evolving into an assured young man.
Just as with “The Killing” and the “Millennium” series, there is a sparsity to the writing. It is clean, concise, and unadorned; almost poetic. Whether this is purposeful, due to translation issues, a nod to Strinberg, or simply a Swedish aesthetic, this simplicity serves to highlight the more dramatic moments, providing that much needed balance.
These quieter moments help the characters, and we the readers, open emotionally, giving ourselves over to the narrative, instead of having it pummeled into us. And when you allow something to seep into your marrow, as “My Brother and His Brother” did to me, it is difficult to walk away unaffected.(less)
It's hard to write about love and loss, but David G. Hallman does just that, eloquently, as he recounts the death of his longtime partner, Bill Conkli...moreIt's hard to write about love and loss, but David G. Hallman does just that, eloquently, as he recounts the death of his longtime partner, Bill Conklin, to cancer. Covering the last 16 days they shared together, August Farewell is a fitting tribute to love lost, far too young.(less)
I'm not an avid reader of fantasy or other genre work, which is why The Night Circus likely blew me away. The author created a vivid world, so specifi...moreI'm not an avid reader of fantasy or other genre work, which is why The Night Circus likely blew me away. The author created a vivid world, so specific and yet dream-like, she was able to take something as stereotypical as a "circus" and turn it on its head in a way that seems both real and unlike anything you've ever seen. While books I love typically have me racing through, to discover the ending, with The Night Circus, I read slowly. Part of this is because its richness is in its details, and the other part is that I didn't want my visit to this fantastical world to end.
I would echo another reviewer, who noted she cared more for the circus than the people within it. I felt the same. But when an author can take something as inanimate as a circus and turn it into something living and breathing, much like a character, so alive that you actually find yourself falling enchanted with it, that is a talented person indeed.
Sadly, given that this is the author's debut, it will likely be a while until I'm again able to delve into one of her tales, but hers is a voice I hope to read again and again. (less)
In MARENGO, author Carey Parrish introduces us to the fun cast of characters living at London's 56 Kensington Street, involved in a breezy whodunit my...moreIn MARENGO, author Carey Parrish introduces us to the fun cast of characters living at London's 56 Kensington Street, involved in a breezy whodunit mystery--though most readers will know whodunit from the minute the villains appear on the page. But in this adventure, plot comes second to the characters, who are gently and affectionately drawn. There is the sweet and nosy landlady, Mrs. Shugart; her charming companion, Mr. Humbolt; the American journalists, Rob and Jeff, who are more than just co-workers; and their go-to fellow American friend, DJ, always at the ready. Add in some shady up-to-no-goods and spectacular jewels, and follow the fun from there.
Parrish excels in drawing us into this world of manners, reminding me of a tale of Agatha Christie, mixed with the warm characters of Maeve Binchy. Here, the surprise isn't really whodunit; the surprise is how much you quickly come to care about this lovely cast of characters.(less)
I first read Our Arcadia, by Robin Lippincott, several years ago and it has always stuck with me. A Virginia Woolf aficionado, Mr. Lippincott’s first...moreI first read Our Arcadia, by Robin Lippincott, several years ago and it has always stuck with me. A Virginia Woolf aficionado, Mr. Lippincott’s first book was the lovely Mr. Dalloway: A Novella, which — as its title suggests — imagines the life of Mr. after the passing of the more well-known Mrs. While I enjoyed Mr. Dalloway, Our Arcadia found a way into my soul, and every so often I pick it up to read again.
In Our Arcadia, Lippincott looks at the lives of 6 people sharing a house on Cape Cod in 1928. The central characters, Lark Marin and Nora Hartley, are seeking the answer to the question “How to Live?”, which is perhaps why it resonates so deeply with me. I’ve often found myself searching for “home” and for “community”, and the longing of the characters feels entirely real to me, following each as they look for their own individual answer to the larger question.
As the book cover suggests, there is something about Our Arcadia which reminds me of a watercolor. While there are some dramatic moments, the story is not told luridly, but by imparting key moments and details, often in muted hues, which ultimately come together to form the larger picture.
If you’re looking for a light and frothy read, this would not be the novel for you, but if you’re interested in something poetic and nuanced, Our Arcadia has much to offer. I highly recommend it.