Books Read September 2008

Babylon Rolling by Amanda Boyden
This is a story of five families of varying ethnic backgrounds -- black, white, and Indian--living along one block of Uptown, New Orleans. I know that much from reading the dust jacket and a whole bunch of reviews because after 34 pages I still had no idea of who-what-where-when and finally I ask myself WHY am I subjecting myself to this??
Sad to say but I could not read any further.
Enough said.

Run by Ann Patchett
Bernard Doyle and his adopted African-American sons, Tip and Teddy attended a speech given by Jesse Jackson. Doyle, a former mayor likes to keep his sons engaged in politics -- although the passion is not shared by the boys. As they leave Harvard auditorium one of the boy’s is almost injured in a car accident but a mysterious woman throws herself in its path to save him. Who is this woman and what are they going to do with her small daughter?
Well, gee I can tell you. I could have told you after about page three. Still, a good (not great) book.

The Enders Hotel: A Memoir by Brandon Schrand
Soda Springs, Idaho is the home of the historic Enders Hotel, CafĂ©, and Bar, a three-story brick building in the middle of town. Brandon Schrand’s family owned the place. Needless to say he grew up there and every day brought another character through the hotel doors — a drifter, an alcoholic artist, an ex-con, a forgotten boxing champ, a homeless ex-college professor from nearby Idaho State University.
I enjoyed it for the memories it stirred up of growing up in a little Idaho town and all the grace and wonderful simplicity that (looking back) came with the territory. Readers without ties to Soda Springs or Idaho might want to pass. The Enders Hotel did win the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize -- so what do I know.

The Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls
Rex and Rose Mary Walls and their four children live like nomads, moving through little desert towns, and camping in the mountains like they’re on some kind of extended vacation. But life with Rex– a drunk but brilliant guy -- who teaches his kids physics and geology, and Rose Mary -- an "excitement addict," is no vacation. Jeannette and her brother and sisters fend for themselves most of the time, and it’s a wonder any of them grew up sane.
As a Mother I have a difficult time with this kind of neglect. I can almost forgive Rex because of his alcoholism, but Rose Mary came off as a spoiled adult who refused to do the right thing for herself and her kids even though she had opportunities handed to her. This is a success story despite great odds, and I mean GREAT odds. It’s also a pretty decent book. These days Jeannette Walls is a regular contributor to MSNBC.com, and lives in New York City. It must have taken a tremendous amount of nerve to write this memoir.

Tomboy Bride: A Woman’s Personal Account of Life in Mining Camps of the West
by Harriet Fish Backus & Pam Houston
Harriet Backus was a pioneer who lived, traveled and experienced more adventures in the wilderness than you and I could ever imagine. This story of her amusing and difficult experiences following her much-loved husband around mining camps is not only an awesome autobiographical account, but a clear picture of life in the wild west -- when roads were dirt, you hauled your water from a well, and the nearest railroad was a “mere” 50 miles away. What a great picture she paints of the Tomboy Mine above Telluride, the copper mines of British Columbia, the remote regions of Idaho, and Leadville, Colorado.