Books Read February

Green Chic – Saving the Earth in Style by Christina Matheson
Christie Matheson wants you to think that being chic and environmentally responsible isn’t mutually exclusive. I want to you think about this – just because someone is a writer doesn’t mean they’re an expert. Matheson writes for Glamour, Shape, coauthored The Confetti Cakes Cookbook, and Tea Party – and is now trying to persuade me to save the earth with her cupcake and chamomile credentials. It’s difficult to take her advice seriously – I mean this is a woman who casually dismisses “saving the earth” to suit her sense of fashion or life-style. The acid test? She simply cannot live without her environmentally unfriendly deodorant. Give me a break.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
Published in 1940, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is the story of John Singer, a deaf-mute in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s. When his companion of 10 years goes insane, Singer is left alone. He rents a room with the Kelly family, where he is visited by a parade of the town's misfits, who gibber away, and praise his ability to understand them. Of course he has NO idea what they are talking about most of the time. All these individuals are considered outcasts --because of race, politics, or disability – which may have made it a cutting edge work of fiction in the 40’s but just doesn’t bring it today.
Carson McCullers is called a major literary talent and she’s a best selling author – even being hailed as one of the great writers of the American South. Oprah agrees. I don’t.

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
The Reade is not just another predictable Postwar Germany story. 15-year-old Michael Berg is helped through an embarrassing situation by Hanna, a woman twice his age. Later he seeks her out to thank her for the kindness and the two become lovers. As the romance winds down, Hanna disappears without a word and Michael continues his life. Many years later, as a law student observing a trial in Germany, he recognizes Hanna as one of the women on trial and ends up in prison. Their relationship grows again –this time a friendship of sorts, and Michael learns her secret.
Are you ready for a great book? Well, here ‘tiz.

The Secret Papers of Madame Olivetti by Annie Vanderbilt
Lily Crisp has the ideal life – a cozy farm in Idaho, a loving husband, two wonderful children, and a vacation house on the coast of France. Gee, can life get much better? Maybe, but not until tragedy strikes. Lily is forced to ponder her future by taking the time to relive her past – and what better refuge than the house in France called La Pierre Rouge? Enter Yves, local hunk and handyman, who fixes the tiles on the roof, and, um other stuff too. When she’s alone Lily pounds the keys of Madame Olivetti, her old fashioned manual typewriter in hopes of making sense of her life. She manages to make all the loose ends come together and what results is a nice, ambling story about the strange turns our life takes on the road to find love and happiness.

The Shack by William Paul Young
Missy is abducted during a family vacation, and evidence is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness that indicates she may have been murdered by a serial killer. Four years later and still in deep grief, Missy’s father Mack receives a suspicious note inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. He goes. As it turns out, the note was written by God, so Mack spends a few days with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Hmmm.
Young was born to Canadian missionaries who were assigned to a cannibalistic New Guinea tribe - so he’s got some spiritual savvy. He also stated in an interview that he began to be sexually abused by the men of the tribe at age 4. I guess this book is part of the on-going healing, but I just couldn’t get into it. Although The Shack was written for his family and a few close friends, Young eventually self-published a few hundred copies. Now it’s a New York Times Best Seller. To me, that is the best part of the book. I love a great rags-to-riches story.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
Edgar Sawtelle was born mute and speaks only in sign language. He lives on a farm in northern Wisconsin where the Sawtelle family has raised and trained an extraordinary breed of dog for three generations. After an unfortunate series of events, Edgar is forced to leave -- accompanied by three yearling pups. What could have been a riveting family saga falls short. Wroblewski yammers on in places of little concern, and for those of us who valiantly read the entire book, he fails to tie up the loose ends. Is he thinking sequel?

The Truro Bear and Other Adventures by Mary Oliver
Oh great – a book recommended by my Mother – and to top it off it’s a book of poems! My doubt was ephemeral. Oliver makes animals and insects appear magical by taking the time to pay attention to their world. In this book she “made friends with the creatures nearby…” which included a few lonely spiders, some wild grasshoppers, and the bear that haunts the Truo woods. Small and common become large and important when you read Mary Oliver.


William Paul Young said...

William Paul Young's book, The Shack, spent 43 weeks as the number one book on the New York Times Best Seller List. Great book!

Belinda Isley said...

What's in store for you now? Working on another book, same genre, exploring new ideas? I'd love to know.