Monday, June 22, 2009

Apologize, Apologize by Elizabeth Kelly

The book jacket claimed that Kelly's debut novel begs comparison with John Irving and I would have to agree. Protagonist Collie Flanagan's family contains raging drunks and selfish millionaires who cannot escape the heartbreaks of life. Kelly's quick pacing keeps the story moving from one agonizing moment to the next. The only flaw for me was the ending which, like life, did not offer much resolution.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Their Dogs Came With Them by Helena Maria Viramontes

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I am just back from grading AP Literature and Composition test essays in Louisville, Kentucky where the professional night speaker this year was Helena Maria Viramontes. She read from this novel and from Under the Feet of Jesus, as well as entertained the crowd of teachers and college professors with her stories about growing up one of nine children in Los Angeles. Their Dogs Came With Them follows several separate characters through the mid-1960's turmoil in L.A. The four female protagonists, Turtle, Ana, Ermila and Tranquilina, struggle with gang violence, family issues, Civil Rights, gender issues and mental illness in this sometimes violent, sometimes lyrical novel.