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review 2017-07-22 01:28
BE FRANK WITH ME by Julia Claiborn Johnson
Be Frank With Me: A Novel - Julia Claiborne Johnson

Alice is sent by her boss to help M. M. Banning complete her newest novel.  She takes care of Frank, M.M.'s son who loves vintage clothing and old movies.  They have a lot of adventures together.

 

I loved Frank.  He was interesting.  Alice had to adjust much of what she thought and did while with Frank and Mimi (M.M.)  She thought one way but found out her boss did not necessarily mean what she thought.  There are at least two different ways to take what is said and done by the characters in this book.  Alice was a linear thinker at the beginning then started to see and think like Frank. 

 

The ending seemed incomplete to me.  I know it's done so the reader can decide how the story does end.  But like the rest of the book there are so many endings that could be done here.  I want to know how the author sees it so I can agree or disagree with her.

 

I'm glad I read this.  I did not find it funny (like the quote on the front cover said) but moving and sad.  It made me stop at times to see where Frank was headed with his thoughts and action.  I also wondered who was actually the adult--Frank, Alice, Mimi, Xander (Frank's sometimes male figure.) This is not a book I will soon forget after the cover closes on the story.

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review 2017-07-21 20:29
People of the Whale - Linda Hogan

This is one of those books I'm going to re-read. It's just so RICH. The writing is astounding, and the story is compelling. Such wisdom and healing - wide and deep as the sea, and the whales and the people who live in profound harmony with their environment. 

 

A couple of quotes: "

 

“He wakes up and he is not a halfhearted man and he can’t remember why he wakes this way, except that he hears the sound of birds and it is as if behind the human world something else is taking place. "

 

and: 

 

“Like the water, the earth, the universe, a story is forever unfolding. It floods and erupts. It births new worlds. It is circular as our planet and fluid as the words of the first people who came out from the ocean or out of the cave or down from the sky. Or those who came from a garden where rivers meet and whose god was a tempter to their fall, planning it into their creation along with all the rest.”

 

Marvelous. Hogan is a literary priestess. 

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review 2017-07-17 18:35
Reservation Blues, by Sherman Alexie
Reservation Blues - Sherman Alexie

This is my first Alexie and not my last. I'm struggling with what to say about it and how because somehow this not-huge novel feels like it's packed in everything about Indian (as they refer to themselves) culture with its focus on a particular reservation and a rock band's steep rise and fall. It does so with deadpan humor and a mix of the fantastic and real that calls to mind magical realism but is distinctive. It's necessarily sad yet not depressing--there's the humor, and there's wonder and hope. There's not an insignificant or uncharismatic character in the book. I feel like I've taken a long, strange trip with them and wish them well.

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review 2017-07-15 20:20
Every Man Dies Alone Publisher: Melville House; Reprint edition - Hans Fallada

An extraordinary novel I am embarrassed to say I was not aware of until Melville Books (bless them) sent me a notice about it. Where the hell have I been?

 

Primo Levi called EVERY MAN DIES ALONE "The greatest book ever written about German resistance to the Nazis."

 

The Montreal Gazette said, "It is no wonder the work's reception in the English-speaking world has been the journalistic equivalent of a collective dropped jaw."

 

It is not only politically important (dare I say, especially in these times?), but it extraordinarily readable. Riveting, in fact. Every character crackles with vibrancy, every decision is perfectly credible. There isn't a speck of cliche. It is heartbreaking, sometimes very funny, thrilling, exhausting, beautiful and ironically life-affirming. The small man/woman, going about life. Being brave beyond measure, even in the face of . . . well, you know.

 

You may be thinking you've read quite enough books about WWI. May I humbly suggest that unless you've read EVERY MAN DIES ALONE you need to read just one more.

I cannot recommend this highly enough.

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review 2017-07-13 18:18
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Penguin Essentials) - Patrick Süskind ,John E. Woods

How I loved this book! The writing is magical and so inspiring, and the story's pretty damn good as well. When I first read it, years ago, I remember thinking I had never read anything quite like it. What a tour de forces. I suggest my students read it to understand what can be done when writing deeply from the senses. 

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