Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

"Life and death lived inside each other.  That's what occurred to me.  Death was inside all of us, waiting for warmer nights, a compromised system, a beetle, as in the now dying black timber on the mountains." -- Peter Heller, The Dog Stars

I like post apocalyptic books, and this is one that appeared on my radar recently.  It's written in a slightly different style,  but drew me in nonetheless and propelled me  along in my reading.  The story line is this:  Hig survives a flue pandemic that kills his wife and pretty much everyone he knows.   He lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog Jasper and a mercurial gun-toting misanthrope named Bangley.  When a random transmission beams through the radio of his 1956 Cessna,  it ignites a hope deep inside of him  that a better life exists outside of his tightly controlled perimeter.   He risks everything, flying past the point of no return to follow it, only to  find something that is both better and worse.

I loved the descriptions of the landscape, the play of opposites between Hig and Bangley, and the love Hig had for his dog Jasper.  A very compelling read--beautifully done.

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Piper Kerman was a reckless young woman when she delivered suitcases of drug money.  Years later her past finally catches up with her, and she becomes inmate #11187-424 at the federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut.  She learned to navigate that world, which was in stark contrast to the well-healed Smith College world of white privilege she came from, and this book is the result of that experience.  There is also a successful Netflix program based on the book (which I have not seen as yet).  I must admit  when I started reading this book,  I realized that by comparison I had led a very sheltered life, as it would  not even occur to me  to do some of the things she talks about so casually.  But it is funny, and written well enough.  There are a few instances in the book when I thought she did some  pretty stupid things to be a fairly smart woman,  but I suppose that charge could be made against  many of us.  I think  I just might  watch the Netflix series now and see what I think.  From what I read, it is very well received.

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