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Showing posts from July, 2013

Fairyland by Alysia Abbott

This book is a memoir written by a woman in the hopes that she can recover the memory of her father and his innocence, because his innocence was the first thing that came to her mind when she thought of him. Alysia's mom and dad were a couple, got married, had the author and then Alyia's mother died in a car crash. Once she did, Alysia and her dad moved to San Francisco, where Alysia began to realize that her father was gay. Steve Abbott, Alysia's father, began to move through the peripheries of the San Francisco poetry scene in the sixties and seventies. He came out during the age of Harvey Milk and he was able to finally find his voice during that time period. During that time period, Alysia was right by his side - he was her only parent. The part of her memoir that struck me the most was how she chronicled the seeming loss of innocence that occurred between the age of the Beats, the onset of AIDS and the death that it wrought before people became educated about it. Wh…

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

When we first encounter Thea Atwell, our protagonist, she has been sent away from her home in Florida to the mountains of Appalachia in what we know is disgrace. She is 15 years old and one half of a set of fraternal twins, the other half of which remained at home with their parents. Thea hopes that she is merely there for summer camp, but when summer is over, she learns that she will be there for the rest of the school year at the very least. The events occur during the beginning of the Great Depression and one can tell that it is having an impact on the girls at the camp, many of whom must leave or get hastily married in order to ensure the family's financial stability and/or position. Economics, however, are a secondary theme to adolescent, and specifically female adolescent, sexual awakening. It doesn't take the reader long to figure out that sex was at the heart of Thea's exile from the fold; however, it is richly given to us in layers that are peeled away slowly. The…

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Without giving too much away, hopefully, I think that I can say this about the plot of this novel: it's about the lives of a woman named ursula Todd who continuously reliving her life. For instance, we meet her on the day of her birth, where she is still born and then on the next page, we meet her again and she has managed to live a little longer. And in the section after that, a bit longer. And so the whole book goes, with Ms. Todd living a bit longer each time. During each of these lives we learn a lot more about Ms. Todd and we also learn that she becomes aware that this is happening to her. The book was a bit difficult to get into as far as the rhythm and pacing of it - it is also disconcerting and disorienting in the beginning because the reader has no idea of what is going on. I think that this may have been intentional on the part of the author because as the novel goes on, one of the most impressive parts is the main character's increasing self awareness including…

Life After Life by Jill McCorkle

Surprisingly to me, this was Jill McCorkle's sixth novel; however it was her first in about 15 years.The center of activity of this novel is an assisted living facility in the Southeast, which is also located near a cemetery. THe novel introduces the reader to many different residents of the facility, its workers and their friends. Their memories and experiences are revealed to the reader through memories, journal entries and first person narrative. Slowly and surely, the reader begins to grasp the tension between illusion and reality and the difficulty that each person has determining what belongs to each realm.I loved these characters - even the ones that were reprehensible. I appreciated the authenticity of the characters. It wasn't a stretch to believe that these were people that I would have known in real life. It moved somewhat slowly and yet I didn't mind that it moved slowly. It allowed me to get to know the characters and to immerse myself in the community. It…

Detroit by Charlie LeDuff

I heard about this book on one of my favorite reading podcasts: Books on the Nightstand and it sounded so good. I found it quite easily at my local library. Charlie LeDuff is a trained journalist and he actually lives in Detroit. He states that his family is from the area, however I'm not positive that this is accurate. He does currently live in Detroit and does online and TV journalism. This made his perspective unique, intriguing and heartbreaking all in one. His narrative looks at many different parts of Detroit's existence: his personal and family life, politics, economics and law enforcement. Even the parts of the narrative that aren't personal become so as he talks about them through a personal lens. He chronicles the appalling neglect of the fire department - their shoes literally have holes in them. One of the firefighters that LeDuff shadows as he researches the book dies in a house fire, in part due to equipment failure. LeDuff's narrative delves into the in…