“Partitions” is about the mass movements of people of different faiths that occurred when India became independent from Britain and was split into two...more“Partitions” is about the mass movements of people of different faiths that occurred when India became independent from Britain and was split into two nations, India and Pakistan. It is not about the historical events, but rather about a few individuals that lived through the mobs, killings and horrors caused by the rapid and indiscriminate drawing of borders. This book focuses on the personal events of a few individuals, not the national events. It takes place at the border between India and western Pakistan – in the region of Lahore, Amritsar and New Delhi. Four very different individuals come together; two Hindu six-year old twins of the Brahmin caste, an aged Muslim paediatrician and a young Sikh woman fleeing her father.
The narrator is what makes the book different. He is the spirit of the twins' dead father. The entire tone of the novel is changed by this "spiritual entity". Rather than being down to earth, factual the novel becomes surreal, poetic and ephemeral. This was not to my taste, and yet I believe others may appreciate such writing.
Although I do prefer writing which focuses on how individuals are battered by historical events, this book is devoid of historical events. The time period covered is just a week or two. This partially explains the lack of historical events. I learned nothing new, and that is a disappointment.
Although I can only give the book two stars, I have no difficulty understanding that others like it much more than I do. (less)
This book is defintiely going to be "different", but I know this author can do magical things. Maybe I should just be happy with The White Woman on th...moreThis book is defintiely going to be "different", but I know this author can do magical things. Maybe I should just be happy with The White Woman on the Green Bicycle, and leave it at that!
Kirkus says it is a bit slow.... It isn't always good to read everything just b/c you loved one book by an author. I really don't know what to do. I can imagine how the author describes icicles hanging from a body, snow flakes dusting the skin.(less)
On completion: The myth about Oedipus will, after reading this book, always mean more to me than just the twist and turns of the legend....moreNO SPOILERS!!!
On completion: The myth about Oedipus will, after reading this book, always mean more to me than just the twist and turns of the legend. It is strange to feel Jocasta's love for this man whom we know is her son. I think Jocasta's emotional reaction when she discovers the truth would be interesting to discuss in a group. A reader, knowing more than what Jocasta knows at certain points, is given a curious perspective; we feel both her passion and a definite disgust. We experience with her the discovery of the truth, an emotional ride indeed!
Intellectually the reader learns about the different gods of ancient Greece:
There before us, each in their proper place, were the gods of the royal house of Thebes. Mighty Zeus and his wife and sister Hera, the king and queen of heaven. Beautiful Aphrodite and the warrior Ares, the parents of Harmonia. Demeter, goddess of the harvest and Dionysus, descended from Kadmos himself. Sly Hermes, hardworking Hephaaestus, and wise Athena. Graceful Artemis, goddess of the hunt. And her twin brother Apollo, lord of healing And Poseidon, who was not just the lord of the seas, but the god of horses and the dreaded shaker of the earth. (85%)
These separate gods and goddesses are listed here, but many of them have also played pivotal roles in this myth. I have learned of their idiosyncrasies, the rituals and sacrifices they demand and how mortals perceive them. How people reacted to their gods' plans and what we today feel when life throws stones n our path are really quite similar!
Reading this book was lots of fun; it has been both entertaining and informative. I do wish the authors had ended with an authors' note. The myth has several variants. An exposé explaining their choices would have been interesting. I was told by one of the authors, but will others get this information?
I have read 53% of the book. I wondered when I began if it would sag in the middle and if the writing would be choppy due to there being two authors, each writing alternate chapters. The answers are NO and NO again! I see absolutely no difference between the different chapters. Rather than being choppy we have two authors who have put their heads together and given us double what perhaps one author could have provided.
Yesterday I read it many hours while travelling in a car. I looked up at one point and said to my husband, "This is good!" The story is exciting. Years and years ago I read Bullfinch's book on mythology. It certainly didn't bring to life the ancient myths as this does.
One fabulous quality of this book must be pointed out. I keep thinking this over and over again. The authors have made a time-period, with beliefs so foreign to our own, seem real and completely acceptable! How can I empathize and feel so close to these characters believing in fate and numerous gods. How is this possible to convince you I have chosen to quote a passage:
Democharus began the announcement, his rich voice booming across the heads of the crowd. "People of Thebes! The city gates are shut! And they will remain so, until a new king for Thebes is found!"…..
The herald continued. "In accordance with the will of Dionysus, as made known to us through his servant the Sphinx Melanthe: the new king of Thebes will be chosen through contest of wit! The contest will take place in three months' time, on the last day of winter; and the marriage will occur eight days later! These are the words of our regent, lord Creon! And of the god Dionysus!"
Silence held for a moment; then a ripple coursed through the crowd. Soon the common folk began to cheer; we had captured their interest. The contest would offer drama and spectacle, the wedding feasting and merriment. I relaxed my grip on the thyrsus. The peasants would no longer mutter that Thebes needed change: we were giving them change, by the will of a popular god – but this change we could control. (53%)
In addition I feel secure in the knowledge that the historical myth is properly conveyed. Many historical media sites have acclaimed the trustworthiness. I, myself, cannot judge, so I trust their views. So I am learning and enjoying myself at the same time.
Some of the lines are so perfect:
Jocasta you're right, you're only part of a tapestry. But that's true for all of us. We are all strands woven into gods' great tapestry. You want to choose your own place, your own colors. But none of us has that choice - our fates are already decided. (15%)
What a beautiful way opf expressing fate. Over and over again I am struck by how ancient beliefs seem fesible to me, a modern person. I am also stuck by the thought that these people were living 1500 B.C. It is amazing to be there among them living so long ago.
ETA: after reading the first chapter.
One more thing: Jocasta is young, only 14 when she will wed the Crown Prince Alphenor. A woman/child of this age will certainly have a vivid imagination about love and sex. And yet she looks at her betrothed and feels NOTHING!
He approved of me, he seemed kind; surely these were good attributes in a husband. Yet still I felt nothing. His touch was warm but otherwise unremarkable. He squeezed my fingers lightly, and released my hand.
I must be dazed, still, from the prophecy - that had to explain my utter lack of interest. I felt as if I floated in a void, removed to some great distance. (7% through the book)
This struck a chord with me. This is the first meeting between the two. I happen to think that two people who love each other feel something at the start, and here there was nothing, nothing to build aupon. Can you imagine one minute being told by the Prophetess Tiresias that she would marry, have a loving relationship and many children, and then she feels nothing..... Her confusion!
Religious beliefs current at this time period do not feel bizarre and strange to the modern reader. I loved Creon's explanation of historical events. His statements first appear heretical, and then he explains why there aren't at all! Or are they?! He stumps Jocasta and has the reader smiling. You have characters of a different timeperiod, but their thoughts and queries are veru similar in nature to our own. If you follow the dialogue you realize the ancient belief in numerous Gods and fate are not diametrically opposed to modern thought. It all depends on how you think it through. In any way, the reader is left feeling comfortable with these characters who have a religious belief system so different from our own.
Most of us know the general story of Oedipus, the man who killed his father and slept with his mother. This is general knowledge. I have always been curious to know more details. The poet Homer refers to this myth, and it is originalloy described in plays by Sophocles written 500B.C. The myth itself is aid to have occurred during the Greek Bronze Age, which I believe is about 1500 B.C. Many of us already know more of the mythical details. I will not mention them here. that could be a spoiler for some. The full story is more involved, and although there are several versions, particularly of the ending, reading this book will put meat on the bones of my sketchy knowledge. I want to fall into the story, be there in the ancient times and experience firsthand what happens.
I want a novel to grab me from the start. Honestly, why must one struggle through the first 100-150 pages? I have only read the prologue and the first chapter. It is exciting from the very start! Jocasta, Oedipus' mother and wife will die before dawn breaks. And so she tells to her daughter, why and how these terrible events have come to pass. Jocasta had not known that Oedipus, her husband, was also her son. How did this happen? That is the story. Righ smack in the first chapter you are there when the Prophetess Tiresias speaks the words of Apollo and declares who will be the next Queen of Thebes. The prophetess is blind; this is a requirement for the position. She blinded hersilf! There is a choice between four girls. Each girl has a different temperment and through the authors' words you have already begun to understand their tempermental differences. What kind of person is Jocasta's brother, Creon, who bring to her a vial of posion so she need not be torn limb by limb at dawn? I feel I have already begun to distinguish different character traits of the individuals. I see the clothes they are wearing. The prophetess, Queen Niobe, Jocast, her brother, Jocasta's nurse: each are each dressed differently in clothing appropriate to their rank. Their actions and words depict different character traits. Thebes is described: the food served, the house construction, the sun. the noises... Well, I like it. This is how I want a novel to start.
At the site presenting this book and several other books which the authors have written together, I have found a map, a pronunciation guide (where I can hear the correct pronunciation not just read it) and an interesting article on how two authors work together. That does seem tricky, doesn't it? Here is a link to the site where all this is available: http://www.tapestryofbronze.com/index... I always need a map.
I want to see if the suspense and my engagement will continue. I want to see if the story lags in the middle. I want to see if I can distinguish which author has written which chapter, or will the writing be smooth? So far I am more than pleased. So far this is a great read.
I have for a long time been curious to know more about the Oedipus myth. Then I heard about this book, and saw the following reviews at Amazon:
A real page-turner . . . a wonderfully nuanced novel that repays previous knowledge of its subject matter - but never requires it" -- Historical Fiction Review, August 15, 2004
...very easy to stay engrossed in Victoria Grossack and Alice Underwood's story of Oedipus, told by his wife/mother Iokaste -- Ancient History About, February 1, 2005, N S Gill
An absorbing, quasi-historical portrait of ancient Greece ... well-balanced update that maintains the original's mythic suspense. -- Kirkus, May 2005
Enthralling from cover to cover ... I'd recommend "Iokaste" to anybody who likes authors who write intelligent stories for intelligent readers. -- Actuarial Review, February 2005
The authors bring the turmoil of ancient Greek mythology to life...not only educational, but a page turner -- BPC Broadsheet, October 28, 2004
I read a snippet and liked the prose style. And then I happened to meet Victoria Grossack, one of the two authors, here at GoodReads! She wanted to know my honest opinion of her book. Of course I was terribly flattered. So now I am reading this book which she has leant to me via Kindle! Nice huh?!(less)
I am adding this not b/c the topic draws me, but b/c I have read the author's book Bel Canto and thought the writing was excellent. I did read another...moreI am adding this not b/c the topic draws me, but b/c I have read the author's book Bel Canto and thought the writing was excellent. I did read another one too about her ill friend, the title of which escapes me. Kirkus says this new one is as good as Bel Canto. Is it really? YAY for new books on Kindle!(less)
I have read other books by Anne Roiphe. I love the author's ability to create a time and place, to depict it with such detail that you s...more NO SPOILERS!!!
I have read other books by Anne Roiphe. I love the author's ability to create a time and place, to depict it with such detail that you see it, smell it, hear it and feel it. Again she succeeds with this, right from the beginning chapters of this novel. Here, in this story, we are transported back to Alexandria, Egypt, to 1883 when cholera is ravaging the city. There is a race on – which country's scientists will find the cause for this disease? Louis Pasteur has sent three young French scientists to Alexandria, along with clear guiding instructions and a servant boy named Marcus. The three are Louis Thuillier, Emile Roux and Edmond Nocard. And then of course there must be some romance thrown into the story, so Roiphe has thrown in Este Malina, the lovely daughter of a respected Jewish doctor. But look how Roiphe describes, with all the senses, Alexandria:
At last shore, the carts piled with goods rattling along the narrow planks of the docks, the strange sound of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer, the gold sandy color of the buildings, the customhouse with its soldiers in uniform, braids and buttons glistening in the heat, and the donkeys with their long ears flattened back against their heads and the children with their hands out, crouching in the doorways, flies stuck to their encrusted eyelids. The smell was strange: dung, saffron, ginger, banana, human sweat, fish packed in barrels, waiting to be carried to the market. They saw turbans and loincloths, and sandals made of paper and wood. Bells were ringing, men were calling out numbers in Arabic and French and English, and sailors were tying up sails. Louis felt dizzy. Marcus placed the large carton they had brought on a wagon, and Louis hopped up on the front seat, with Roux and Nocard behind. Marcus rode standing on a rail in the back. They headed for Hotel Khedivial at the corner of rue Cherif Pasha and rue Rosette, where they had taken a week's lodgings. (at 7% of the book)
Roiphe is not only adept at describing places and scenes, but also people. Here we have a bit about Marcus:
The three of then walked into the café. Marcus followed them, his eyes glazed. If he were a dog, someone would have patted him on the head; as it was, he sat at a table in the darkened room, repeating his uncle's words as he departed Paris: "Travel is broadening for a young man. Shakes you up, it does" He did feel shaken, but was he broadened? His stomach still heaved and he barely sipped at the absinthe drink that Louis had ordered for him. It was on the table in a long thin glass, pale green, cloudy; the taste of licorice pleased him, but the burning in his esophagus did not. A boy who is not quite a man is not eager to know the outlines of his esophagus, the details of the act of eating, the route the food takes to his stomach. He prefers to think of himself as not so much a body with parts as a blossoming landscape, springtime in the pastures. He stared at his drink and grew sleepy. (7%)
You can also see from just this short passage that a major theme concerns the science of disease and the human body; how it functions, when well and when ill.
And who is Louis? Take a peek at the first dinner party, when the three scientists are invited to the consul general, M. Girard:
At dinner, Louis was seated next to the very round, rosy-colored wife of an Alexandrian doctor……The first course seemed to be a thumb-sized fish lying on a bed of mushrooms. Then concoction had a strange smell. Louis picked up his fork and mutilated the fish, smashing it into the mushrooms, without bringing the smallest piece to his mouth. Slowly he drank a glass of wine, after wiping the rim of the glass with his napkin.....he glanced down the table and saw a young woman with long dark haired back with a bright green ribbon. Her skin was coffee-colored, like that of the natives. Her eyes were dark and wide. Her neck was long and graceful. "Who is the young lady down the table?" he asked his companion.
"My daughter,"replied the lady. "She is beautiful, is she not?"
"She is," he said.
"Beauty is an asset in a woman," said the wife of the doctor.
"Of course," said Louis. Not wanting to seem like a beast, he added, "Beauty is worthless without character."
"True," said the wife of the doctor, "but character is often worthless without beauty – in a woman, that is."
Louis fell silent. What should he say next?........
Louis had never in all his life been served by a butler. There seemed to be ten of them in the room. He had never tasted the fowl with tiny bones that floated in a gravy on his gold-rimmed plate. He had never eaten from such a plate. He had never put such a large silk napkin on his lap before. He had never tasted such fine wine. In fact he did not like it quite so well as the kind purchased by the glass at any corner café in Paris, but he knew enough to know that this was his failure, not his host's. (9%)
That is enough. Are you intrigued by the characters, by the place, by the book's subject? You must decide if you are drawn to the descriptive writing style, learning about Alexandria and cholera. Do you want to know more about Louis, this young scientist, who know so much about chemistry and yet feels so misplaced in the splendor of the elite Alexandrian upper-class society?
I like that the history of cholera and what was known concerning the disease are documented here in the book. Here follows a quote concerning the history of the 1817 outbreak of cholera in India:
According to a conclusion arrived at in 1819 by the Bengal Medical Board, the "the proximate cause of the disease consisted in a pestilential virus, which acted primarily upon the stomach and the small intestines and the depressed state of the circulatory powers and diminished action of the heart were consequent on the severe shock which the system had received in one of its principal organs." (45%)
Many interesting facts are presented. It had been claimed on several occasions that the wealthy had purposely poisoned the poor using cholera to remove them from cities. And how does it feel to dissect a human being, a young child killed by cholera, to find the cause, to find the microbes there on the "imperfect lens"? Think, if the lens could be improved? Think, if they could only see more! You will find yourself washing your hands rigorously as you read this book!
Neither is the book just about cholera. It is about fathers and their daughters. It is bout both mother to son and mother to daughter relationships too:
One was married oneself, and showered with candies by one's friends, and lifted on high by the men of the community, and everyone admired you and the real life began and you had a daughter and the daughter grew and you went with her to purchase the dress for the most important event in her life. Was this not the way it had always been, generation after generation, l'dor v'dor, as they said in Hebrew. (55%)
What if your daughter is headstrong and wants to herself plan every step of the marriage without her mother's interference? Are times changing? I am just wondering?! But then I read a few pages more and I smile……. Este and her Mom certainly do not agree on everything. In fact, they do not agree at all, so they drop the subject. Now I feel more normal. :0)
And there is more……. You will be glued all the way through to the very last page. You must not look up the character names or cholera in Wikipedia! What an adventure! There is a clear and detailed author's note at the end. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute spent reading this book. I highly recommend it. It is a terribly fun read. Even when things are grim, I was laughing. Wait till you see the behavior of the French consulate's wife! (less)
On completion: It didn't take me very long to read this book, that is simply because I found it very interesting. In fact it won over br...moreNO SPOILERS!!!
On completion: It didn't take me very long to read this book, that is simply because I found it very interesting. In fact it won over browsing GR! When a book doesn't draw me, I usually find something else to do; I find all sorts of other things that have to be done. I do this unconsciously. This book I read in three days!
What I liked about the book was that it provided a chance to experience life in Kabul under the Muzahideen, the Taliban and the bombing of Kabul after al Quaeda's terrorist attack at the World Trade Center in September 2001. Kamila lived through this all. You are there with her. Reading this book inspires hope for Aghanistan. It shows, through one woman's experiences, the ingenuity and fighting spirit of the people. If she can suceed as she has, so can others.
The prose style is clear and straightforward. This well serves the purpose of the book. Hopefully the excerpts below are adequate for you to judge for yourself.
The questions posed in the prologue are clearly answered. Kamila's life experiences, how she was raised by her father with his strong belief in the value of education, the trust he placed upon her, the hardship endured during these years and her inborn entrepreneurial talents shaped Kamila. All of these factors together made her the strong woman portrayed in this book, a woman fighting for her country. It is very important this book was written. Kamila deserves to be known and admired. What she has done inspires hope.
Through 57% of the book: Typical, the minute I say that the focus of the book is upon the business aspect of Kamila's enterprise, the focus changes. We are know learning about the different girls sewing or attending the sewing school initiated by Kamila. I like learning about their individual circumstances.
When Mahnaz heard through a cousin's friend about Kamila and the girls her age who were sewing together just a block away, she had jumped at the opportunity to join them. Two of her sisters, one of whom was determined to become a doctor when school was allowed again, quickly decided to come along once they heard how Mahnaz was enjoying herself. "It's not even like being in Kabul City," she told her siblings after her first day at Kamila's house. "It feels like a place where there is no Taliban at all, and no fighting. There are just all these women working together and talking and sharing stories. It's wonderful." '57%)
These teenagers who had been free to go out and associate with their friends, go to school and read books were suffocating under the Taliban regime. Wearing chadri was the least of their problems. Kamila's enterprise and school was heaven to them. The Afghan youngsters, both the boys and the girls, were forced into adulthood over night. Their maturity is praiseworthy. You miust read about Kamila's thirteen year-old brother Rahim! He was the sole male left in the house.
56% through the book: This book begins with a prolgue explaining why the book was written. What questions did it aim to answer. This is in fact very important in that these intentions guide the path the book is to follow. The author went to Afghanistan to write a report for the Financial Times to study the new generation of businesswomen who had emerged in the wake of Taliban takeover and to find for the Harvard School of Business a case study focused upn women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan. Kamila Sidigi was a women who through her own business saved her own sisters, helped many other Afghan women and helped her country. What motivated Kamila to passionately fight for her country? This question too was to be answered. It is very important to keep the purpose of the book in mind when reading the book. The challenges Kamila faced to achieve her goals are revealing. The book is about how Kamila achieved these goals and what actually motivated her. I will again provide an excerpt from the book. These lines are found at the 55-56% marking:
"While we are sitting here, I think we need to talk about space." Saaman said, "I mean the fact that we are running out of it."
Already the work had expanded from the living room to the dining room, and it was threatening to spread further still into the last remaing family room. Dresses now hung from all sorts of unusual spaces, from doorframes and table corners to the backs of chairs. The front rooms of the family home had been transformed into a workshop that regularly ran fifteen hours a day at full capacity. Chairs forming a U filled the living room so that classes could be taught in the center and the girls could see their classmates' work, though some young women still preferred to sew sitting cross-legged on the floor. Hurricane lamps lit the rectangular room from each corner, since sunlight faded out of the sitting area in the late morning. When the dusk arrived, the girls....... I've been thinking about buying a generator from Lycée Myriam.
Sometimes the focus on matters of business are made at the expense of getting to know the trials and tribulations of the girls. I still do not know all the names of Kamila's four sister who live and work with her in the tailoring business. One name has yet to be mentioned! At the same time the book shows both how war intimately shapes women's lives and the resoucefullnes of which they are capable.
ETA: I was wrong, confused or whatever. I DO know the four sisters' names. I didn't think I should count in the older sister Malika! My error, not an omission from the book. There are however nine sisters. The four who do not live at home are not spoken of. I am a nut for keeping all the family members straight. The four unnamed sisters do NOT play a role in the story, so they need not be mentioned. I am just curious where they are and what they are doing..... How do they fit in?
24% through the book:This is intersting, absorbing and at the moment I judge it much, much better than Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns, which by the way I gave 5 stars. Afghan history before and during the Taliban takeover in 1996 is more clearly presented, and yet the story about Kamila Sidiqi and her family is equally engaging. It reads like a story but it is a biography! You learn about different cultural groups predominant in differnt areas of the country, customes, clothing and foods specific to Afghan life. You come to understand how the Taliban arose. After the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979, masses of children were left orphans. They were raised under the doctrine of the most strict Islamists. Sharia and purdah was the life they knew. They knew of nothing else. To understand where we stand today with Afghanistan you have to understand its past. You must also know that once in the 1960s and 1970s life was cosmopolitan. Under Mohammad Daoud Khan, Afghanistan was a republic, the king had been overthrown. Soon thereafter came the Soviets, then the Mujahideen, the civil war, the Taliban...... This history is well told. Clearly, precisely and engagingly - with relevance to the Sidigi family. The book is about this family and the women who survived under the Taliban. They were educated women. Several were teachers with diplomas in hand. The book strives to show how they survived and from where they drew their strength to fight for a modern, free Afghanistan. Free for women as well as men. An Afghanistan whers women may go to school, get the jobs they choose and wear the clothes of their choice. The last was actually the least important. Under the Taliban the women were left to their own resources. The men had to leave. Leave or die. I have only read 24% of this egalley. It is fascinating and engaging and it is all true.
Here follows a quote so you can judge for yourself if the subject matter and prose style fits you as much as it does me. This following concerns the women of the Sidigi family. There were nine girls in this family, only two boys. The following excerpt is found 12% through the egalley:
They had grown up in the capital long after Prime Minister Mohammad Daoud Khan had embraced the voluntary unveiling of his countrywomaen in the 1950s. King Amanullah Khan had attempted this reform unsuccessfully thirty years earlier, but it wasn't until 1959, when the prime minister's own wife appeared at a national independence day celebration wearing a headscarf rather than the full chadri, that the change finally took hold. That one gesture stunded the crowd and marked a cultural turning point in the capital. Kabul's next generation of women had gone on to become teachers, factory workers, doctors and civil servants; they went to work with their heads loosely covered and their faces exposed. Before today many had never had reason to wear or even own the full veils of their grandmothers' generation.
On completion: I am sad to leave this book. It was a delight to read. I fell in love with Charlie, Ava's Man. the author's grandfather....moreNO SPOILERS!!!
On completion: I am sad to leave this book. It was a delight to read. I fell in love with Charlie, Ava's Man. the author's grandfather. Rick Bragg talked with all his relatives to find out about his grandfather. He was in fact born after his death. It wasn't easy finding out about Charlie because when he died everybody simply could no longer talk about him. It was too hurtful. You can look at this man and say he wasn't so great; he did so many things he shouldn't do. The fact is he was great! Why? Well, because he did so many things he should do, too, and he did these things so darn well. He was a great father. You could depend upon him. The times were tough, but he pulled all of his kids through except one who died. He pulled them through to such an extent that they never wanted to be far from him. They could always rely on him. So how bad is it to make a little likker on the side, to cuss, to wear ventilated, sometimes dirty, patched overalls and to brawl now and then when you see what he did achieve. He gave security and love to those in his famuily. He built a wall around his home and he never brought his likker inside that wall. He knew that would cause grief, So he stuck to that rule. I recommend you read this book because it is a delight to know this person. I see him as a model figure for how a father should be. At the same time you really learn how it was to live through the Depression in the South. I like books that teach something. This did. The witing was magical because it conveyed a time and a place that I didn't know at all and made it so real I could touch and smell and see and hear and feel it inside of me. Maybe I should have given it five stars, but I think I didn't quite feel for any of the other characters as much. When he dies the book looses steam, but that is only about a chapter from the last page. Not terribly much happens, but you do get to know a wonderful human being! I feel most comfortable with four stars, so that is what it gets.
OK, this is my last quote, for more you must read the book. So all the men, just about all of them were making their own likker, down in the South along the border between Georgia and Alabama. Charlie simply had to, during the Depression you took any opportunity available to bring home a little cash, for food or to pay doctors. He had six kids! And his likker never killed anyone. He made good likker. Nothing poisonous, like others did. It wasn't a big operation, no indeed.
The revenuers there paid absolutely no mind to Charlie Bundrum or his little moonshine still, it would have been like arresting someone for popping bubble gum in the middle of Mardi Gras. (page 143)
I am halway through, and enjoying every minute of it. Rick Bragg can write. He can make stories about likker and lightning bugs and ghosts. You will believe them just as I do. What a storyteller!
Ghost stories begin like this. But then drinking stories, begin this way too. (Page 130)
I don't drink, b/c it's messy with diabetes. It is not that I have anything against others that do! The book takes place during the Prohibition, and I am a law-abiding type, but these stories are delightful.
Men drank. Men worked. Men fought.
By the time you were thirteen or fourteen, you were a man, or else something pitiful.......
But this was one of the reasons they loved him.(Ava's man, i.e. Charlie, the author's grandfather)His nature, his fine nature, was not turned ugly by it. He drank and he laughed and he drank and he sang and he drank and he told good stories, and sometimes he drank and he just went to bed smiling. (page 132)
The prose is like a song.
*************************************** Just a taste of the author's wonderful knack for telling a story;
(Page44-45) By his momma's death, Charlie was more man than most ever get, a tall, hard, strong and smiling man, as if he were immune to the fires that had scorched him, if not purified by them.
He lived for fiddle music and corn likker, and became a white-hot banjo picker, and a buck dancer and a ladies' man, because women just love a man who can dance. At seventeen he could cut lumber all day, then tell stories all night, and people in the foothills said he would never settle down or maybe even amount to much. But the boy would charma bird off a wire. And there seemed to be no fear in him, no fear at all. It was almost as if he had died already, met the devil and knew he could charm him or trick him or even whip him, because what did ol' Scratch have left to show him that he had not already seen.
You get folk songs too, that make you want to hum along. And if yu are wondering what a buck dancer is, worry no more. Read the book, and you will know and be able to see it in your mind's eye.
This book is about the author's grandfather and mother who grew up in the Appalachian foothills, in towns straddling the Alabama and Georgia state line, before and during the Depression. I can tell right now that one should pick up this book to roll the words around in your mouth before swallowing them. The author won a Pulitzer Prize. I think it was for this book, if I remember correctly.
And I love reading it on my Kindle! Can reading be this simple and delightful?!(less)