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Book Reviews
Click on a book to read its review.

2005  
  The Tender Bar by J.R Moehringer
  What Remains, A Memoir of Fate, Friendship
  Killing Yourself to Live: 85 percent of a True Story
  Kite Runner
  The Confessions of Max Tivoli
  The Lake, The River, and the Other Lake
  Tales of a Female Nomad
  Plan B, Further Thoughts on Faith
  The Shadow of Kilimanjaro
  Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

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The Tender Bar by J.R Moehringer

Mindy's book of the month is The Tender Bar by J.R Moehringer. A moving, vividly told memoir full of heart, drama, and exquisite comic timing about a boy striving to become a man and his romance with a bar. Author J.R. Moehringer grew up listening for a voice: it was the sound of his missing father, a disc jockey who disappeared before J.R. spoke his first words. J.R.'s mother was his world, his anchor, but he needed something else, something more, something he couldn't name. So he turned to the bar on the corner, a grand old New York saloon that was a sanctuary for all types of men - cops and poets, actors and lawyers, gamblers and stumblebums who provided a kind of fatherhood by committee. When the time came for J.R. to leave home, the bar became a way station.

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What Remains, A Memoir of Fate, Friendship

This month's book is a recommendation from our friends at National Public Radio and Sue, titled What Remains, A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love by Carole Radziwill. It's a vivid and haunting memoir about a girl from a working-class town who becomes an award-winning television producer and marries a prince, Anthony Radziwill, one of a long line of Polish royals and nephew of President John F. Kennedy. Radziwill's story is part fairy tale, part tragedy. She tells both with great candor and wit. She explores the complexities of marriage, the importance of friendship, and the challenges of self-invention with unflinching honesty. This is a compelling story of love, loss, and, ultimately, resilience.

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Killing Yourself to Live: 85 percent of a True Story

Bill's book of the month is Killing Yourself to Live: 85 percent of a True Story by Chuck Klosterman. For 6,557 miles, Chuck Klosterman thought about dying. He drove a rental car from New York to Rhode Island to Georgia to Mississippi to Iowa to Minneapolis to Fargo to Seattle, and he chased death and rock 'n' roll all the way. Within the span of 21 days, Chuck had three relationships end: one by choice, one by chance, and one by exhaustion. He snorted cocaine in a graveyard. He walked a half-mile through a bean field. A man in Dickinson, North Dakota, explained to him why we have fewer windmills than we used to. He listened to the KISS solo albums and the Rod Stewart box set. At one point, poisonous snakes became involved. The road is hard. From the Chelsea Hotel to the swampland where Lynyrd Skynyrd's plane went down to the site where Kurt Cobain blew his head off, Chuck explored every brand of rock star demise. He wanted to know why the greatest career move any musician can make is to stop breathing...and what this means for the rest of us.

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Kite Runner

Kate's Book of the month is Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. An epic tale of fathers and sons, of friendship and betrayal, that takes us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the atrocities of the present. The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy, haunted by a childhood incident in which he betrayed the trust of his best friend and the son of his father's servant. This a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed.

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The Confessions of Max Tivoli

Mindy's Book of the month is The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Greer, a heartbreaking love story with a narrator like no other. At his birth, Max's father declares him a nisse, a creature of Danish myth, as his baby son has the external physical appearance of an old, dying creature. Max grows older like any child, but his physical age appears to go backward, on the outside a very old man, but inside still a fearful child. Set against the historical backdrop of San Francisco at the turn of the 20th Century, Max's life and confessions question the very nature of time, of appearance and reality, and of love itself. A beautiful and daring feat of the imagination, it truly embodies what it means to be human.

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The Lake, The River, and the Other Lake

Bill's pick of the month is The Lake, The River, and the Other Lake by Steve Amick. The setting is Michigan's gold coast, the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, in the once-quiet village of Weneshkeen. In the summer of 2001, it is a veritable melting pot, with all the consequent complications, problems, and rich rewards. There are the townies and the ritzy summer folk. There is Roger Drinkwater, an Ojibwe Indian, Vietnam vet, and lifelong resident, who wants to restore the calm of his peaceful lakeside home which has been shattered by screeching jet skis driven by obnoxious young Fudgies (slang for tourists), who are polluting his beloved homeland. We are treated to a big-hearted tale that is by turns uproariously funny and dark, and always poignantly real. Bitterly comic and surprisingly meaty, this roiling tale of passion, anger, regret, and lust is dark fun.

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Tales of a Female Nomad

May's book of the month is brought to you by Michele and Mindy and is titled Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman. This is a book about a woman breaking out of her comfort zone, and she starts her tale at the age of 48 with the end of her marriage of 24 years to a prestigious husband and a life of glamour and privilege. She starts her travels in Mexico, learning to enjoy the life of backpacking, meeting new people, and living among natives of a country. Each chapter is another country she visits, the people she meets and with whom she lives, and comes to know as family, as she travels to Guatemala, Nicaragua, Israel, Galapagos Islands, Indonesia, Canada, New Zealand, and Thailand. It is a fascinating book by an adventuresome, interesting woman.

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Plan B, Further Thoughts on Faith

Bill's (the Old Post Office Shop) book of the month is Plan B, Further Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott. Lamott sends us 24 fresh dispatches from the frontier of her life and her Christian faith. To hear her tell it, neither the state of the country nor the state of her nerves has improved, to say the least. Thankfully, her gift for conveying the workings of grace to left-wing, high-strung, beleaguered people like herself is still intact, as is her ability to convey the essence of Christian faith, which she finds not in dogma but in our ability to open our hearts in the midst of our confusion and hopelessness. Her subjects cover such disparities as the Bush administration; the death of Lamott's dog; her mother and a friend; life with a teenager; and her 50-year-old thighs.

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The Shadow of Kilimanjaro

The book of the month is a recommendation from our friend Mark: The Shadow of Kilimanjaro by Rick Ridgeway. Ridgeway's aim during this adventure is less to get there and more to be there. This is a true account of a walking safari from the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro to the Indian Ocean, through Kenya's famed Tsavo Park. It's about Africa's indigenous peoples, its landscape, and its awe-inspiring animals. Accompanied by park officers, Ridgeway treks unprotected among lions and elephants, rhinos and oryxes. In the introduction, Ridgeway quotes Henry David Thoreau: In wildness is the preservation of the world. That is what this book is about, a wildness that is intact, a wildness in which all the original pieces are there. You can purchase this book at Treehouse Books in Holland (616-494-5085 http://www.treehousebooks.net) or at The Old Post Office Shop in Saugatuck (269-857-4553 oldpostoffice@wmol.com) (for the comic book lover in you, don't forget to cruise Uncle Keith's Comics).

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Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

Sue's book of the month is Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris. In his latest collection, Sedaris has found his heart. The 27 essays here include his best and funniest writing yet, with the Sedaris family in all its odd glory. What emerges in this book is the deepest kind of humor, the human comedy.

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