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Showing posts from May, 2012

Book 25 - Population: 485 by Michael Perry

This is a memoir, so don't be fooled. It's definitely not a novel. It's Michael Perry's collection of memories about his time as a volunteer firefighter/EMT in a small country town in Wisconsin. And it's mostly about firefighting and EMT work and NOT about small town life necessarily. As background, Michael Perry left his small community to attend college, where he got a degree in nrsing. When he returned, he elected to become a volunteer firefighter/EMT in the community where he was born and raised. It gave him a way to re-connect with the community that he had left and also, gave him a way to learn about and reintroduce himself to his former neighbors. I think that he was under the impression that people believed that he wouldn't return after leaving for college and so, he thought that this disproved them.What I particularly loved was how Mr. Perry introduced his readers to the colorful characters that all small towns inevitably have. For instance, we mee…

Book 24 - Chastened by Hephzibah Anderson

I was in the library, naturally, and saw this book. It looked intriguing so I picked it up and read the book flap. Essentially, Ms. Anderson (a Cambridge educated 30 something journalist) decided to write a memoir of her year abstaining from sex and trying to withstand the temptation to have sex. She has the oh so difficult task of withstanding the numerous lovers that seem to flock to her in trendy London and this, my friends, is the premise of this book. The premise of the book was promising, I'll grant you that. But Anderson was a horrible writer. She wasn't funny and her prose was wandering. I didn't feel like the book was organized, although the chapters seem to suggest that it was, probably because the prose was so scattered and things didn't really seem to be connected all that well. She talks about a million things in the process of trying to tell you one and it takes her like 10 pages to do the simplest things, like buy clothing. For someone that practices wr…

Book 23 - Anatomy of Injustice by Richard Bonner

In early 1982, an elderly widow had been found brutally beaten to death in a small town in South Carolina. The woman was white. Nearly immediately, a man named Edward Lee Elmore - a black man that was illiterate and mildly mentally retarded - was arrested. Within 90 days of his arrest, he had been tried and sentenced to seat (CRAZY!!!). Within 11 years, however, Elmore had netted a young attorney named Diana Holt, a spitfire who was convinced that Elmore was innocent and was dead set on getting him a new trial. I am not shocked at how difficult it was to unring the bell in a capital case - but that's because of what I do. I know that the courts are very cautious in their review of lower court cases and jury trials. So that aspect of the story didn't really surprise me at all. I thought that Richard Bonner had a way with words and a really nice way of telling the story, which made the entire thing fascinating. It was obvious that he had done his homework and his research and …

Book 22 - Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru

This book is set in the Mojave desert of Southeastern California and spans a few decades with a focus on the 60's and 70's. We are introduced to the area, most notably the three pinnacles, in 1947 when an aircraft engineer believes that the three large rocks are ideal for channelling messages to and from extraterrestrial beings. In the subsequent chapter, we are in present day (2008), and learn that a rock star has fled from LA to the same place (but is staying in a motel) and that a family has a severely autistic child, which is deemed to be a failure by the father of the family. The chapters move along in alternating fashion, with the past interspersed with chapters in 2008. It alternates about the awful story about what happens to Lisa and Jaz (the family with the autistic children) and the development of the cult created by the aerospace engineer in 1947. The common thread are the Pinnacles. Common themes also include missing children, loneliness, technology and chaos.Thi…

Book 21 - Diary of a Public Radio Slave by Kerri Wood Thomson

When I was on vacation recently, I didn't want to bring a whole lot of paper books with me because they get heavy and are sometimes really just inconvenient to drag around. So I wanted to put some interesting looking but light books on the Kindle to read and I saw this one when I was browsing around. I love NPR and my localNPRaffiliates (OK, I'm a total dork and I love listening to them all the time because I actually learn something while I'm getting my news; and those links take you to different affiliates). This one seemed to fit the bill and looked light and interesting so I borrowed it on my Kindle. When we first meet Sloan, the protagonist of this book, she has just been fired from her job. She thinks that she can manage this because her fiancee, with whom she has just bought a home and with whom she will be marrying within a short period after receiving her pink slip, has gotten cold feet. In fact, he tells her that he's going out and will be right back and …

Book 20 History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard Mason

I read this book while I was on vacation and, because my computer was hopelessly broken (and required three days at the Apple Store to fix, but hey, it was free so no worries), I haven't been able to get around to it until now. This book is mostly about Piet Barol, a young, 20-something man living in Amsterdam in 1907. He's attractive - at least most women believe that he is - and he knows that he's attractive to most women, so he's going to capitalize on it to any extent possible. In essence, Piet wants to use this to make some money so that he can move up in the world and make a name for himself, in another country if possible. So, he takes a job as a tutor with the wealthy Vermeulen-Sickerts family; he will be tutoring their son, who suffers from such severe obsessive-compulsive disorder that he cannot leave his house without having a debilitating panic attack. Piet's role is to cure him of the OCD and the agoraphobia. As it turns out, however, the other me…