Sunday, December 20, 2015

My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South by Rick Bragg

From the New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner comes this collection of essays on life in the south.  Keenly observed and well written with his usual dose of humor Bragg writes about home, place, and the spirit that encompasses his native Alabama as well as Cajun country and the Gulf Coast.  These stories were collected from a decade of his writing about the region that he loves and understands probably better than us all.  His unique gift for storytelling is brought home in a powerful way by the sensitivity and depth of his prose.
One of the many passages that spoke to me:  "...I hope I will never have a life that is not surrounded by books, by books that are bound in paper and cloth and glue, such perishable things for ideas that have lasted thousands of years, or just since the most recent Harry Potter.  I hope I am always walled in by the very weight and breadth and clumsy, inefficient, antiquated bulk of them, hope that I spend my last days on this Earth, arranging and rearranging them on thrones of good, honest pine, oak, and mahogany, because they just feel good in my hands, because I just like to look at their covers, and dream of the promise of the great stories inside."
I love Rick's books.  I Love the man.  Here's your chance to discover one of the great southern writers.

After You by Jojo Moyes


This is the sequel to "Me Before You," the well written tear jerker and testament to love published by Moyes in 2013 that sold over five million copies.  If you've not read "Me Before You," you need to read it first and then read this one--not just so you get the history of the characters right, but because it really is such a fantastic read.  In the first book, Louisa Clark takes a job working for wheelchair bound Will Traynor.  Will is acerbic, moody, bossy, and she soon finds herself caring about his happiness more than she expected.  I don't know what I can tell you about this one without spoiling what happens in her previous book, but suffice it to say that after the transformative 6 months she spent with Will Traynor in "Me Before You," she is struggling.  An extraordinary accident forces her to return home to her family and she can't help but feel she is right back where she started.  Like its predecessor it tackles difficult subjects giving you a roller coaster ride that will have you laughing, crying, and rejoicing. 

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. In this novel about hard choices and survival, she is also on trial for her life.

In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying her and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die.

As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she'd found.

The story is told from her point of view, and the motives of others always seem to be suspect.  But since we are never really told the story from any other angle, perhaps we should be leery of Grace's motives as well.  The point of the whole story is that nothing is as it seems.  Alliances form, motives are not always discernible, exposure and deprivation take their toll.  The book grapples with difficult issues.  When, if ever, is it appropriate to commit an evil act to save others? When is inaction as great an evil as violent action? And lastly, how would you behave under similar circumstances?

An interesting read. 

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

In Holt, Colorado, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters.  Her husband died years ago, as did his wife.  In such a small town, they have known each other for decades.  She makes him a very strange proposal.  She wants him to come over to her house some night and sleep with her.  Not for sex, but for talk, comfort.  Both of them are alone, lonely, and heading into old age.  As they lie together in bed, companionably, they talk about their dreams, disappointments, hopes, and compromises.   Their lives are gradually laid bare to each other and they ward off the loneliness that has consumed them both.  Charming, tender, and beautifully written this book about finding love late in life was finished just days before Kent Haruf died.  He knew he was dying (from an incurable lung disease), but he felt well enough to attempt one more project. Normally it took him six years or more to write a novel, but in a rush of creative energy he finished this is just 45 days.  What a lovely legacy this book of gorgeous writing and wisdom has become.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...