I tried (and failed) to limit my list to ten. Click on the link to go to the full blog post.
This astounding novel is the story of Thomas Sutpen, a man who came out of the West Virginia mountains with nothing to his name, arriving in Yoknapatawpha County in 1833 to build a fortune and carve out a plantation, expecting to found a dynasty. We learn about him…Continue
Added by Barbara Morrison on January 12, 2013 at 6:37am — No Comments
Memory certainly works in mysterious ways. I was reading _Abide with Me_, by Elizabeth Strout, author of one of my favorite books, _Alice Kitteridge_. _Abide with Me_ follows Tyler Caskey, the minister of the small, New England town of West Arnett in the winter of 1959. Burdened with grief, he lives with his young daughter, Katherine, in a farmhouse a little ways outside of town while his younger daughter, Jeanne, lives with his mother in the nearby town of Shirley…Continue
Added by Barbara Morrison on October 8, 2012 at 1:30pm — No Comments
I recently started a novel with a lovely and intriguing cover, an interesting title, and glowing blurbs. Before I'd read even twenty pages, though, we were on our third time period and third set of characters. Maybe my attention span has gotten shorter, but that just required too much up-front work from me, and I discarded the book without going further.
I think this is one reason why I like mysteries: they stay closer to the classical unities than most novels. There is one main…
Added by Barbara Morrison on October 1, 2012 at 1:40pm — No Comments
This memoir recounts Dubus's life growing up poor in the 1970s in Haverill, an impoverished mill town on the Merrimack River, an environment I'm very familiar with from my years in Worcester. Dubus's father, a writer and professor at Bradford College across the river, left the family when Andre was 11. Burdened with the responsibility he's undertaken to protect his two sisters and younger brother while their embattled mother works to support the family, Andre struggles with what he believes…Continue
Added by Barbara Morrison on September 24, 2012 at 5:39am — No Comments
Ordered by my doctor to take a day off and do nothing—best medical advice I’ve ever received!—I plunged into this book, the first of a series of four books about the Cazalet family. Like Upstairs, Downstairs, and apparently also televised by NPR though I missed it, the Cazalet Chronicle follows the members of a large family and their servants in and around the Home Place where William and Kitty collect their grown sons and their families during the summer…Continue
Added by Barbara Morrison on September 3, 2012 at 12:50pm — No Comments
I’m going to take a break from books this week to talk about writing competitions. I mentioned recently that I judged a novel contest, which was more taxing than the poetry and essay contests I’ve judged because I had to include feedback for the authors.
Submitting work to contests makes up an essential part of a writer’s marketing strategy. An author’s bio should include at least a couple of awards, especially if the…Continue
Added by Barbara Morrison on August 27, 2012 at 3:49pm — No Comments
Everyone was talking about the film a few months ago, but I wanted to read the book first. It starts with a chilling scene: Ree Dolly, in thin cotton dress and combat boots standing on the front steps buffetted by the wind of an approaching snowstorm, staring at deer carcasses hanging from trees across the creek. The meat belongs to relatives who may or may not share it with sixteen-year-old Ree and her two younger brothers. In any case, the children won’t ask for it, but will instead make…Continue
Added by Barbara Morrison on October 31, 2011 at 5:53pm — No Comments
Jackson Brodie returns! Atkinson entered the list of my favorite authors with her first book, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and each new book has only confirmed my opinion of her writing. This is her fourth book featuring now-retired private investigator Jackson Brodie. The first is currently being televised by Masterpiece, starring Jason Isaacs as Brodie.
To give some structure to what he calls his "semiretired" life, Brodie is criss-crossing Britain in search of…Continue
Added by Barbara Morrison on October 24, 2011 at 10:12am — No Comments
Added by Barbara Morrison on October 17, 2011 at 12:05pm — No Comments
Matur’s poems ache with power. Her words and images barely control the deep, rumbling force that threatens to explode in blinding light. A Kurdish Alevi from Southeastern Turkey, she draws on that dark heritage of war and defeat and loss and exile to create the poems in this collection, selected from her four books published in Turkey. Perhaps related to that loss is the fact that she writes in Turkish, not the Kurdish of her childhood. In the Introduction, Maureen Freely says that Matur…Continue
Added by Barbara Morrison on October 10, 2011 at 1:32pm — No Comments
Added by Barbara Morrison on October 3, 2011 at 11:23am — No Comments
A small newspaper article puts Commissaire Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg back on the trail of a serial killer he’s been tracking for thirty years. The killer’s M.O. is unmistakeable: a knock on the head and three puncture wounds in a row, equally spaced and equally deep. No one by Adamsberg even accepts that the murders are related since the killer always provides a fall guy: someone too drunk to remember his actions and conveniently holding the ostensible murder weapon. One of those fall guys was…Continue
Added by Barbara Morrison on September 27, 2011 at 1:54am — No Comments
What an interesting film! Almereyda has set Shakespeare’s play in a modern urban landscape, such as New York City, where all the surfaces are smooth and slick. Young Hamlet (Ethan Hawke) is home from school and trying to come to terms with the changes in his family. Hamlet’s father (Sam Shepherd) is dead and Claudius (Kyle MacLachlan) has not only taken over his brother’s role as king and CEO of Denmark Corporation but has married Gertrude (Diane Venora) his…Continue
Added by Barbara Morrison on September 19, 2011 at 1:23pm — No Comments
The death of Gordon “Go-Go” Halloran brings together four people who had been inseparable for a few years in the late 1970s but have since lost touch. The two girls, Gwen and Mickey, became friends with the three Halloran boys—“Crass Tim, Serious Sean, Wild Go-Go” —after barging into their kickball game. The five of them spent long summer days exploring the wild and overgrown woods nearby before stumbling into a mystery that would challenge and change them forever.
The story also…Continue
Added by Barbara Morrison on September 12, 2011 at 1:00pm — No Comments
With the power out all week thanks to Hurricane Irene, I’ve had many nights that were too dark recently. This 17th novel in the Kate Shugak series starts when a pickup truck is discovered on a rarely traveled road in Alaska with a suicide note taped to the steering wheel. It could have been there an hour or over a month, so a search is organized for the missing driver. Kate, a private investigator in the small town of Niniltna, is drafted by the short-handed police force to conduct the…Continue
Although he started out as a cowboy and still occasionally visits the village of Pine, 30-year-old Milt Dale prefers the solitary life of a hunter. Roaming the White Mountains of Arizona accompanied only by his semi-tame cougar, Dale’s woodsmanship is sufficient to supply him with everything he needs. One day, taking refuge from a storm in an abandoned hut, he accidentally overhears Snake Anson and his gang meeting with a local landowner. Beasley hires Anson to kidnap his rival Al…Continue
Added by Barbara Morrison on August 22, 2011 at 11:30am — No Comments
This is the third book of poetry from the Toronto-based Sinclair, though the first one I’ve read. Or rather, immersed myself in, since I’ve read and reread it, set the book aside for a few months, and read it again. Poets are often advised to go deeper, to make space for more profound meaning to emerge. Sinclair’s poems show me how far short of that goal I’ve fallen. They disturb and entrance me. They make me look at the things of this world in a new way.
Milton Glaser, in talking…Continue
Added by Barbara Morrison on August 15, 2011 at 2:42pm — No Comments
In this sequel to Gone, Baby, Gone Lehane brings back Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro. That brilliant and disturbing book centered on their search for the missing four-year-old Amanda. Now, twelve years later Patrick and Angie are the parents of their own little girl, Gabriella. Patrick is struggling to make a living as a private detective while Angie finishes her master’s degree, but the tough economy has him reluctantly hoping to turn piece-work for a big firm into a permanent…Continue
Added by Barbara Morrison on August 8, 2011 at 7:12am — No Comments
I loved this book. It took me forever to read because every time I picked it up, I went back and reread the previous chapters for the pure joy of the prose.
In Precious Bane Prue Sarn tells the story of what happened after the death of her father of apoplexy or stroke following an argument with her brother Gideon. Gideon takes over running the farm, determined to force it to yield the wealth that he believes he requires in order to marry the woman his loves and lead the life…Continue
Added by Barbara Morrison on August 1, 2011 at 7:00am — No Comments
I’m just going to talk about this one story, though I am working my way through a collection of all of O’Connor’s stories. One of my book clubs reads short stories, and this was one of the two for July. I hadn’t read it since my schooldays, so it was interesting to go back and take another look.
It opens with the grandmother trying to persuade her son, Bailey, to take their vacation in East Tennessee instead of Florida. She summons arguments such as the children’s previous visits to…Continue
Added by Barbara Morrison on July 26, 2011 at 2:45am — No Comments