OLIVE KITTERIDGE/ELIZABETH STROUT

A look behind the closed door…many doors….many lives….all intertwined in Crosby, Maine, as small as a Maine fishing community gets. Olive Kitteridge is story of the young and foolish and of the crusty and stubborn. A novel of worn out love dying the death of boredom but then flushed with moments of unthinkable, improbable excitement in the dwindling daylight of Maine’s long winters . Elizabeth Strout offers a full menu of characters afflicted by nearly all of modern life’s life’s travails. The novel was deemed worthy of Pulitzer following its 2008 Publication.

Also by Elizabeth Strout Abide With Me and Amy and Isabelle.

THERE THERE/ TOMMY ORANGE

Tommy Orange’s debut novel There There starkly reminds the reader of the certain truth, there is no going back.  For American Indians “There” is no longer.  Some try to make the best of circumstances, many do not.

Orange’s thirteen Native American characters who have been born into or transported themselves to city life creates a poignant and melancholy reality.  Visions of their heritage, a There There, are intertwined with harsh reality. This creative story teller brings a voice from over the centuries delivering a stark message for contemporary America.

Orvil Red Feather stands in front of Opal’s bedroom mirror with his regalia on all wrong—he moved in front of the mirror and his feathers shake—-he worries suddenly that Opal might come into her room—Opal had been against any of them doing anything Indian—she treated it like it was all something they could decide for themselves when they were old enough—Indianing.

There There.

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING/DELIA OWENS

Readers of this blog know that there is much emphasis  on biography and non-fiction here. When I was given a copy of WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING BY DELIA OWENS my response was immediate. ” Thanks, I am overdue for a good novel.”

Little wonder this book has been on The NYT Best Seller list for over a year.  Although a late comer for me, this novel done so, is a most pleasurable page turning read.   If you haven’t already go for it.  The book will not disappoint.

THE FLIGHT PORTFOLIO-JULIE ORRINGER- A Novel? Historical Fiction?

Julie Orringer is back with her second Novel titled The Flight Portfolio. The theme is similar to her first  in one aspect, escape from the Nazi’s.  In that Novel, The  Invisible Bridge, Orringer chronicled the escape of the protagonists grandparents from Hungary. ( See gordonsgoodreads.com).  The Flight Portfolio tracks the courageous adventure of Varian Fry, a young American in Marseilles, France seeking to help famous artists and writers escape Nazi tyranny.  Among them are Chagall, Hannah Arndt, and Max Ernst. Fry works under the auspices of an American funded philanthropy, The Emergency Rescue Committee.  Orringer makes clear that the Varian Fry part of her book is in fact a well researched work of non-fiction.

 

In the midst of the daring intrigue  of Fry’s  daily work, Orringer introduces a parallel story line. A former Harvard classmate, Elliott Grant,  and unconventional lover of Fry’s is also in Marseilles, himself seeking to save  the son of yet another individual from the hands of Nazi’s.  The story line becomes tense as Fry’s homosexual  relationship with Grant complicates the mission.

Julie Orringer’s writing is splendid and enjoyable.  Her work is always intricately researched and clearly presented. A novelist who will certainly provide her readers with much future enjoyment.

How To Swim Underwater, short stories by Julie Orringer.  Wonderful.

THE RECKONING/GRISHAM/ HISTORICAL NOVEL?

By searching this site you will see that I have read all of Grisham’s novels.  My point is that THE RECKONING, comes closest to my imagining that the book may well be based upon a true story.  In fact in the Acknowledgements, Grisham hints that the story comes from a memorable tale and suggests that anyone who might have knowledge of the actual circumstances contact him.

John Grisham, the wonderful storyteller, sets THE RECKONING in the cotton fields of northern Mississippi. He establishes a decades old planter class nuclear family living on a plantation that has a “Gone With The Wind,” flavor. All is well until suddenly the reader is transplanted to the horrendous Bataan Death March during World War II.  The detail is so vivid and well researched that Grisham becomes a historical novelist  similar to the work of Jeff Shaara. ( search this site).

The story returns to Mississippi with Grisham twists to the end that keep the reader’s eye glued to the very last page.

You will want to add THE RECKONING to your Grisham list. His most recent book, THE INNOCENT MAN, is in fact his first work on non-fiction. No surprise after reading THE RECKONING.

 

 

 

LINCOLN IN THE BARDO/ GEORGE SAUNDERS

LINCOLN In The Bardo by George Saunders has been widely acclaimed. His unique approach to writing a novel certainly distinguishes this work.

The Bardo allows for the inclusion of multiple themes, characters and certainly Lincoln and son Willie. Frankly the book did not work for me although I am clearly an exception.  Others call it a “Masterpiece,” “Profound, funny, vital,” “A twenty-first-century Twain.”  I tried, I wanted to get there but couldn’t.

That said, who am I to critique Saunders. Give it a go, and see what you think.

ORIGIN/ DAN BROWN/INCREDIBLE IMAGERY/SUSPENSE/ SCIENCE

” Where did we come from and where are we going.”  The ultimate mystery?  Creation versus evolution? God versus science? What is waiting for us?  Big questions, but not for a Dan Brown novel.

Brown’s latest suspense thriller, Origin,  couples Robert Langdon with a wonderful cast to bring forth this suspense filled story in all its glory.  Set in Spain, the  novel couples the story line with incredible imagery. Brown states : ” All art, architecture, locations, science and religious organizations in this novel are real.”  It adds greatly, to drawing the reader deeper and deeper into the story.

Edmund Kirsch, an eccentric billionaire and futurist, claims to have found the answer to life’s ultimate questions.  The story conflicts Christians with atheists, adds a good dose of the Spanish Monarchy and even romance.  Of course, the ending will surprise.

There is not a lot more that needs to be said about a Dan Brown novel. I highly recommend the book. Quite possibly  the story warrants a screenplay. You never seem to tire of Langdon and you will find yourself with a new outlook regarding artificial intelligence.  Prescient? I think so.