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for Owen Meany by John Irving
Keith's pick of the month
is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. The novel is told
from the point of view of Johnny Wheelwright, the best friend
Owen Meany, who is of diminutive size and has a distinct
and high-pitched voice. The scope of the novel is huge, as
it essentially encompasses the entire life story of Owen
and Johnny. Owen is convinced he is the instrument of God
and is on earth to do His duty. Irving does a great job developing
the extraordinary character, Owen Meany, and a brilliant
job in foreshadowing the ending, while at the same time building
more and more layers to each character. I say that this is
a MUST read from the John Irving collection.
by Lorna J. Cook
Michele's pick of the month
is Departures by Lorna J. Cook. A local first-time author,
Cook gives us a peek into the hearts and the minds of the
VanderZee family. Her writing is reminiscent of Anne Tyler,
and by the end of the novel you feel you know the main characters
so thoroughly that you feel like a part of the family. Cook
takes a look at the different roles each member plays, what
their hopes and dreams are, and how differently they can
perceive one another, often completely misreading each other.
of Pi by Yann Martel
Keith's pick of the month
is The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. This is a fantastic book.
The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge
of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi
is 16, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard
a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound
for new homes. The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in
a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a
wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger.
If Canadian writer Yann Martel were a preacher, he'd be charismatic,
funny, and convert all the non-believers. He baits his readers
with serious themes and trawls them through a sea of questions
and confusion, but he makes one laugh so much, and at times
feel so awed and chilled, that even thrashing around in bewilderment
or disagreement one can't help but be captured by his prose.
of Life Report by Meghan Daum
Sue's pick of the month is
The Quality of Life Report. This is Meghan Daum's debut novel,
and it's hilarious. It brings Daum's sharp wit and courageous
social commentary to the story of Lucinda Trout, a New York
television reporter in search of greener pastures. Moving
to the slower- paced, friendly, and vastly more affordable
Midwestern town of Prairie City, Lucinda zealously creates
a series of televised reports for her New York audience about
her newfound quality of life. But when Lucinda falls for
eccentric local Mason Clay, her na´vetÚ about the real world
leads her down an unexpected path, where she encounters,
among other things, a drafty old farmhouse filled with children,
an ever-growing menagerie of farm animals, and the harshest
winter the region has seen in 20 years.
List by Martha the hip and groovy librarian
Our book of the month is
actually a list of recommended books that the Saugatuck-Douglas
Library put together. We'll call it Martha's Summer Reading
List (Martha's our hip and groovy librarian). Here's the
line up: Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier; Sleeping
Car Murders by Sebastian Japrisot; A Girl Named Zippy by
Haven Kimmel; Living to Tell the Tale by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez;
and Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss.
and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Mindy, a cool and groovy
chick, picked Nickel and Dimed for our monthly selection.
Between 1998 and 2000, the author, Barbara Ehrenreich, spent
time three cities throughout the nation, attempting to get
by on the salary available to low-paid and unskilled workers.
Beginning with advantages not enjoyed by many such individuals--she
is white, English-speaking, educated, healthy, and unburdened
with transportation or child-care worries--she tried to support
herself by working as a waitress, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home
aide, and a Wal-Mart employee. She discovered that her average
salary of $7 per hour couldn't even provide the necessities
of life (rent, transportation, and food), let alone the luxury
of health coverage. With her characteristic wry wit and her
unabashedly liberal bent, Ehrenreich brings the invisible
poor out of hiding and, in the process, the world they inhabit--where
civil liberties are often ignored and hard work fails to
live up to its reputation as the ticket out of poverty.
Wife by Nick Bantock
Keith's pick of the month
is The Venetians Wife by Nick Bantock. The subtitle of this
oversized, lavishly illustrated volume confirms that we are
a kind of quasi-mythical kingdom: A Strangely Sensual Tale
of a Renaissance Explorer, a Computer, and a Metamorphosis.
This is the story of San Francisco art conservator Sara Wolfe,
who is fascinated by a drawing of the Indian god Shiva hanging
on the walls of the museum where she works. She receives
an e-mail message from one N. Conti, who somehow is aware
of her obsession and offers her a job traveling around the
world assembling Indian art for his collection. The narrative
proceeds via these e-mail messages and through the protagonists'
entries into their computer journals. The mysteries around
which the plot hinge Conti's identity and his ultimate purpose
in reassembling his collection are suspenseful, augmented
by Bantock's intensely colorful and often sensual illustrations.
This is a wonderful book that is a quick and delightful read.
by Myla Goldberg
This month's book is a recommendation
from our friend Kate and is titled Bee Season by Myla Goldberg.
There is so much pain in this powerful first novel about
a family's unraveling that it often seems on the edge of
unbearable. And yet, as we watch 9-year-old Eliza Naumann
transform herself from underachiever to spelling prodigy,
we endure the pain out of respect for one girl's courage
and all-consuming love. Eliza's family is gradually breaking
down in front of her: father Saul, whose self-absorbed passion
for Jewish mysticism blinds him to the suffering of those
closest to him; mother Myriam, whose quest for perfection
leads her into kleptomania; and brother Aaron, who rebels
against his faith and turns to Hare Krishna. Goldberg effectively
mixes fascinating detail about spelling bees with metaphorical
leaps of imagination, producing a novel that works on many
Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Sue's book of the month is
The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. This is an
extraordinary novel with a unique premise, an exploration
of the unknown in this expanding century, where the impossible
becomes possible, if not routine. It's a lyrical love story
between Henry and Clare, albeit an unusual one suffused with
vivid images of the past and the future. Henry has a rare
genetic condition: he time-travels within his own lifetime,
into his own past and future, yet dwells in the present.
Niffenegger has not written a traditional romance; instead,
she has grounded her tale in flesh and blood reality. This
was by far Sue's favorite book in years.
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