Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Read Banned Books -Banned Books Week 2007

2007 Banned Books Week: Ahoy! Treasure Your Freedom to Read and Get Hooked on a Banned Book

Visit the American Library Association website for information about Banned Books Week 2007.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Away by Amy Bloom

This lovely novel was also a birthday gift from my husband. Amy Bloom is an author whose work I have admired for years - especially her short story collection A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You. This new novel is a sweeping saga that almost reminded me of an Amy Tan or Isabel Allende novel. Lillian Leyb finds herself in the tenements of the New York theater district in 1924 after escaping from Russian marauders who murdered her family. Her new life in the new world is turned upside down when she receives word that her daughter may still be alive in Russia. Lillian then begins a cross continent trek to Seattle, then Alaska, then, hopefully, home. The novel is episodic. In each locale, she is befriended by a genuine cast of characters. I savored the last pages of this beautiful novel in a way that I haven't any novel recently. Coincidentally, I read Amy Bloom's marriage announcement in last Sunday's New York Times.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England by Brock Clarke

My husband surprised my with a book I had not heard about for my birthday. What a hoot. The Arsonist's Guide is a fake memoir of a man, ironically named Sam Pulsifer, who served time for accidentally setting fire to the Emily Dickinson Houst in Amherst, Massachussetts. Having visited the Dickinson house last spring break makes the book even funnier for me. Sam goes on to be implicated for fires set to other writers' homes. There is a funny website for the book which includes an online memoir maker. Clarke teaches Creative Writing at the University of Cincinnati.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Driving with Dead People by Monica Holloway

It has been a while since I read a memoir, and I had to wait a long time to get this from the library, so I figured it must be good. The author is a graduate of Kenyon College in Ohio. She grew up with the daughters of the town undertaker - thus the title. But the story, which begins small-town quaint, takes an ugly turn as family secrets are revealed much later in life. I was drawn into the story, much like with an Augustan Burroughs book.

Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

The much awaited sequel to Stargirl picks up a year after the conclusion of the first book. Stargirl has moved from Arizona, resumed her homeschooling, and made friends with a bizarre assortment of people - six year old Dootsie, agoraphobic Betty Lou, fiesty Alvina, and grave-side vigilant, Charlie. Although I am a HUGE fan of the first book, I have to agree with the many critics who say the sequel falls short, partially because it is written in the form of letters to long-lost Leo, Stargirl's first love. I'll be honest- it isn't the original, but I am glad to have Stargirl back.