Daily Archives: June 1, 2008

Back When We Were Grownups – Book Review

I read this book back in 2006, and discovered I’d journaled on it. This is a very short “review,” but thought I’d include it here on my blog.

Anne Tyler has her finger on the pulse of humanity. She creates unforgettable characters who live on long after her novels are finished. Back When We Were Grownups is no exception. Tyler reveals her characters flaws and strengths with biting humor and raw emotion. Rebecca, widowed at a young age, is the heart and soul of her extended family – the Daviches. One day she begins to question who she has become and how her life might have unfolded had she chosen a different path in life. Her journey to “the fork in the road” and back will make you laugh and cry at the same time. A wonderful book.

Highly Recommended.

Sunday Salon – June 1, 2008

June 1, 2008

7:15 AM

Although I did not post a Sunday Salon last week, I have slowly been reading through everyone else’s thoughts. It is such a joy to spend the early morning hours sifting through the blogs, reading insightful and thought-provoking posts about one of my favorite topics – books! My coffee is hot, the dogs are laying at my feet, the pines are casting shadows across my porch…and so I guess it is time to settle down and share a few thoughts with you.

Since I last posted, I finished reading Chekhov’s The Kiss (read my review) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Later in the month I will be participating in both the 48 hour Book Challenge AND the 24 hour Read-A-Thon (if you’d like to sponsor me for the latter to help raise money for Reading is Fundamental, please check out my post about the challenge), and I hope to read the rest of Chekhov’s short stories during those events. I also read a wonderful short story by Alice Munro (read my review). I’ve discovered that searching on-line for short stories is a great way to delve into them without having to buy collections. The New Yorker has a great selection and also has podcasts. I encourage you to check it out!

In novel reading, I finished Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes (read my review). It is a startling and very well-written book centered around a school shooting. Lest the subject matter be off-putting to you, let me assure you that the book is less about the shooting and more about what leads up to it. I guarantee it is a novel that will haunt you. I like Picoult for just this reason – she attacks hard, current issues…showing both sides and introducing characters who feel like real people.

I also read Other Voices Other Rooms, by Truman Capote (read my review). Have any of you read this? I tried to stay open minded, but it is a bizarre book. There has been a lot of discussion about this novel being autobiographical. What I can say is that it is a waltz through some strange situations. Capote is a brilliant writer on many levels. His prose is gorgeous. And when he is on, he sweeps me away. But, I can’t recommend his first novel – too weird. If you’ve read it and have thoughts on it, I’d love to hear them.

I’ve been recently inundated with early review books. They all look good – and I’m having trouble deciding what to read from that stack. But, I did pull out Songs for the Missing, by Stewart O’Nan and loved it (read my review). I hadn’t read anything by this author before, but now I will be sure to add his other books to my wish list. Songs for the Missing is heartbreaking and beautifully written. It has edged onto my best books of 2008 list and I have a feeling it will stay in the top ten. It won’t be released until October…but when it comes out, read it. If you don’t love it, I’ll be surprised.

Finally, I finished up the month with Before You Know Kindness, by Chris Bohjalian (read my review). This novel takes on animal rights and gun control. As with most of Bohjalian’s novels, it is written from multiple points of view and has well-developed characters. I am rarely disappointed by this author (although last year I read The Double Bind and thought it was horrible – sorry, Chris!). This novel got me thinking about the line between fanaticism and being passionate for a cause. At what point does passion overflow into just being a nutcase? Where is the balance between one’s personal life and the time spent fighting for one’s causes…or is there no line between these? Have any of you read this book? What are your thoughts?

I started reading Bridge of Sighs, by Richard Russo last night. Here is another author I have not read before, but I’ve heard people rave about him. I was immediately drawn into this novel and despite being exhausted, I read past 11:00 PM last night. Russo has a gentle rhythm to his writing…one that appeals to me. I think I’m going to love this book.

I am planning on spending at least a part of today in the wicker chair on my porch reading. My husband and I have to drive into town and make a “Cosco run” this morning (I hate going there, but I cannot deny any more that my cupboards are bare). If we can be efficient, I should have most of the afternoon to sink into Russo’s hefty novel.

Happy Sunday, Saloners!