Saturday, November 29, 2014

Jerry Lee Lewis: Hiw Own Story by Rick Bragg


Rick Bragg has been called the greatest southern storyteller of our time.  What better author could they have gotten to write the biography of a southerner some call the greatest rock and roller of all time.  This book is the Killer's life the way he lived it, framed by Bragg's wonderfully descriptive and richly atmospheric turn of phrase.  Bragg spent hours interviewing Jerry Lee in his bedroom, where he lay on his bed with "a loaded, long-barreled pistol behind a pillow, a small arsenal in a dresser drawer, and a compact black automatic on a bedside table." 

"He remembered it as it pleased him," Bragg writes at the start of the book.  "That doesn't mean he always remembered it the same way twice."  Music gave Jerry Lee a purpose, and at 79 Bragg's portrait of him will be the way he's remembered when he's gone.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

As of this writing, Leaving Time is in the running for Best Fiction Book of the year at Goodreads, and rightly so.  An author for over two decades, her books about love, family, and relationships are consistent best sellers because they resonate with readers.

In this story of a teen searching for her missing mother, Picoult manages to combine elephants, a psychic, the spirit world, and grief and loss into a phenomenal emotional narrative.  As usual she introduces multiple characters and each chapter is written from differing viewpoints. 

Leaving time is set partially at a New England elephant sanctuary and also in Africa where wild herds roam.  As the book opens, thirteen year old Jenna Metcalf is searching for her mother, Alice, an elephant researcher who disappeared 10 years earlier after a tragic accident at the sanctuary.  Her father has been in a psychiatric hospital since the incident.  Jenna reads journals her mother kept in the hopes of finding clues to her disappearance.  She enlists the help of Serenity Jones, a disgraced psychic, and Virgil Stanhope, a hard-drinking detective in her search.

The story is well told, funny, and the wonderful twist at the end is one I won't soon forget.  I also love elephants, which really added to my enjoyment of the book, and I'm so glad that Picoult will shine some much needed attention on the plight of elephants and raise awareness of the cognitive and emotional intelligence of these beautiful animals.   
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