Daily Archives: June 20, 2010

Mailbox Monday – June 21, 2010

Welcome to this week’s edition of Mailbox Monday hosted every Monday by Marcia at The Printed Page.

I got some real gems this week.

Beside the Sea by Veronique Olmi and Stone in a Landslide by Maria Barbal both arrived from Peirene Press thanks to Meike. I discovered this small press through a post by El Fay on This Book and I Could Be Friends (thanks El Fay!).

Beside the Sea is a disturbing and compelling novella about a mother and her two young children. First published in France, it has now been translated by Adriana Hunter for English speaking readers. I was so excited when I got this book, I read it immediately (read my review).

Veronique Olmi is a French author who was born in 1962 in Nice and now lives in Paris. Her twelve plays have won numerous awards. She has published six novels.

Stone in a Landside takes place in the Catalan Pyrenees at the beginning of the last century when 13-year-old Conxa is sent to live and work for her childless aunt. After years of hard work follow she meets and falls in love with Jaume only to be separated by Civil War. The story is narrated by Conxa, now in her waning years. The novella is translated by Laura McGloughlin and Paul Mitchell. This book has received much praise. Financial Times writes: ‘… there is an understated power in Barbal’s depiction of how the forces of history can shape the life of the powerless.

Maria Barbal was born in 1949 in Tremp (Pyrenees) and studied Philology in Barcelona where she still lives today. She has established herself as the most influential and successful Catalan contemporary author, winning numerous awards including the national literature prize of Spain, the Serra d’Or and the renowned Prudenci-Bertrana prize.

Publisher Simon & Schuster sent me a finished copy of Sea Escape by Lynne Griffin which I will be touring in July for TLC Book Tours. This novel is about the relationship between a mother and daughter. When Laura Martinez’s mother suffers a debilitating stroke, Laura returns to a once-loved beach house to reclaim her father’s love letters to her mother. The book jacket reads:

As Laura delves deeper into her tangled family history, each letter revealing patchwork details of her parents’ marriage, she finds a common thread. A secret, mother and daughter unknowingly share.

Lynne Griffin is a nationally recognized expert on family life. She teaches in the graduate program of Social Work and Family Studies at Wheelock College and at Grub Street Writers. She lives outside of Boston with her family. Sea Escape is her second novel. Learn more about Griffin and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley found its way to my doorstep via a Shelf Awareness offer from Simon & Schuster. The book is the first in a projected series and was nominated for this year’s Edgar Award, and was recently nominated for two Anthony Awards (Best First Novel and Best Paperback Original).  Set in Michigan, the novel opens with the pieces of a shattered snow mobile washing up on the shores of  Starvation Lake. Connected to the disappearance of the town’s legendary hockey coach years earlier, the snow mobile becomes the first piece of evidence suggesting murder rather than a tragic accident. Protagonist Gus Carpenter (the editor of the local newspaper) begins to investigate the crime – and as the case moves forward, he uncovers some disturbing secrets for which some people may be willing to kill. Visit the fictional town of Starvation Lake and listen to the author narrate excerpts from the novel.

Brian Gruley is the Chicago bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal. He was won numerous awards for his writing and reporting. Starvation Lake is his first novel. He lives with is family in Chicago. To learn more about Gruley and his work, visit the author’s website.

I also received a wonderful package in the mail this week from a Library Thing friend (click on photos to enjoy a larger view):

  • Gorgeous bookmarks by Australian artist Ellis Rowan
  • Wonderful Australian triple milled soaps
  • And, of course the books: The Twyborn Affair by Patrick White (awarded the Noble Prize for Literature in1973), The China Garden by Kristina Olsson (well-known Australian author), and a fun book called My Listography which I cannot wait to start filling up with lists!

My week in books was fantastic! How about you? Did anything wonderful show up in YOUR mailbox this week?

Catcher in the Rye – Book Review

She was right, though. It is “If a body meet a body coming through the rye.” I didn’t know it then, though.

“I thought it was ‘If a body catch a body,'” I said. “Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy.” – from The Catcher in the Rye, pages 224-225 –

J.D. Salinger’s classic novel The Catcher in the Rye is narrated entirely from the point of view of sixteen year old Holden Caulfield – a boy on the cusp of manhood who is trying to find his way in the world of adults. Holden’s ambivalence about becoming a man is evident from the beginning. He is a cynical, immature teenager who is full of angst. The novel is really a retrospective covering a narrow time frame that begins when Holden is kicked out of an expensive prep school and extends over about four days as he takes the train back to his home in New York City and encounters various other characters. Holden Caulfield is not likable – he is antagonistic, smokes incessantly, and uses foul language in nearly every sentence. He is also a rather unreliable narrator, a boy who overcompensates for his insecurities by being jaunty and full of himself.

Thematically the novel covers issues of isolation, sexuality, and teenage angst. Caulfield’s struggle to understand mature sexual relationships plays a large role in the story. Faced with the terrifying leap over the cliff into adulthood, Caulfield sinks into a depression as the novel progresses.

The story has a rambling style of run on sentences filled with pithy dialogue. There were times when I grew tired of Caulfield’s negative voice. If I had to live with this kid I would probably want to shake him until his head snapped back and forth on his scrawny neck. Despite those moments, there were times I wanted to like his character – he is a boy who loves writing and reading, and beneath his tough exterior is a sensitive kid who has no idea how to grow up.

The Catcher in the Rye has been a controversial novel since it was first published in the mid-twentieth century. Censored and challenged as part of high school reading lists, it has come under fire for its profanity, sexual themes, and teenage rebellion. I thought it rather tame compared to some of the other literature I’ve read.

I can’t say I really enjoyed this book. It is a quick read, but grew tiresome for me. I can see how it would appeal to teens – especially boys. I don’t really understand the idea of censorship or challenges for books like this…to me they are great places to start a dialogue with teens. Although I’m glad I finally got around to reading The Catcher in the Rye (for some reason I never read this novel as a teenager), it isn’t a tome I could recommend to other adult readers.

Just an average read that some might like –