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November 28, 2014
The Plot Against America
by Roth, Philip
In today's Reader's Connection post, I recommend a book about Franklin Roosevelt and World War II. Passages in that book, about Charles Lindbergh's pro-Nazi speeches, reminded me that Philip Roth had written a novel, ten years earlier, in which Lindbergh is elected President of the United States. Our country doesn't enter the war, and our Jews have a rough time of it.
The narrator, a fictional version of Philip Roth, is seven years old when Lindbergh is nominated. Roth's mom and dad are the book's heroes, and The Plot is, in its left-handed way, a companion volume to Roth's Patrimony, which was a funny, moving memoir about his father. I assume that some family members here--such as Aunt Evelyn, who proudly dances with Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop when that Holocaust-enabler is invited to the White House--were invented for this tale.
Alternative-history novels aren't a specialty of mine. Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle, set after the U.S. loses WWII, is thought of as a classic; and I thought it was okay. But Roth's book is more heartful, more suspenseful--I cared much more while reading this novel.
Next Monday, December 1st, the Wayne Library is hosting a discussion of Melanie Benjamin's 2013 novel The Aviator's Wife, a fictional treatment of the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. In The Plot Against America, Roth presents his own wacky/horrid theory as to why Lindbergh became the Nazi-tolerant figure that he did.
Recommended by Glenn Halberstadt, Information Technology
November 17, 2014
by Koontz, Dean
Odd Thomas lives a fairly simple life in Pico Mundo, California. He has a girlfriend, Stormy Llewellyn and works as a short order cook at Pico Mundo Grille but the weird thing about him is…he can see and talk to dead people, but the dead don’t talk back. Because only he can see them, he feels compelled to help solve their untimely deaths with the help of his girlfriend and the Chief of Police, Wyatt Porter.
Odd Thomas also sees halfman/halfdog like creatures he calls bodacks. They signify an upcoming death. So one night when he sees a swarm of those malevolent spirits crawling around a house he knows the family inside is probably going to die . . . unless he does something, fast . . . but what?
--Recommended by Claudine Polley, Fountain Square Library
November 10, 2014
by Miller, Kimberly Rae
B Miller K.R. MIL
Kimberly Rae Miller’s youth was quite different from others. Imagine dodging Child Protective Services, a house fire, environmental hazards galore, being dropped off at the corner so your friends don’t see where you live. Why? Because her parents are hoarders. Coming Clean is her story of struggle, acceptance and love. Her honesty is quite revealing as she divulges her family secrets. Kimberly is conflicted: Should she rescue them when the family is forced to move? Is she willing to deal with their wrath if she throws out their “prized” possessions? How will friends and dates react when they find out what she has been hiding? Will she become a hoarder? This book tackles a difficult journey from a voice that is seldom heard, one that has lived it. Hoarding is a family affair. If you enjoy reading books about real people, realities of family secrets, and love that goes beyond all of the clutter, then this book is for you.
This title is also available as an audiobook on CD.
--Recommended by Mary L. Weimer, Warren Library
November 3, 2014
A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings
by Barks, Coleman
As I mentioned in a blog post last week, Coleman Barks is going to participate in this year's Spirit & Place Festival. Though unable to attend the event, I've been inspired to read this book of days.
366 poems, or fragments of poems, by the Sufi mystic. 2015 won't be a leap year, but a February 29th reading has been included, for years when it's necessary.
It's possible that reading a bit by the same poet, every day, even if he's "a planetary poet," will grow tiresome. I might begin to think, Oh this guy is sappy, working the same rooms all the time. That hasn't happened yet. The "planetary poet" description comes from Barks, who isn't a translator--he doesn't know Persian--but has helped to make Rumi popular with his reworkings of other English translations.
Just back from Michigan, I fixed breakfast for one of my sons this morning, checked my work e-mail, and took a minute while munching raisin bran to read the November 3rd poem, "Ashes, Wanderers." The parts of me to whom advice was being offered thought the advice was pretty good.
--Recommended by Glenn Halberstadt, Information Technology
October 27, 2014
Affectionately Yours: The Civil War Home Front: Letters of the Ovid Butler Family
by Davis, Barbara Butler, editor
Affectionately Yours has the uncommon approach of being constructed around 65 letters sent from home to the Civil War soldier. The reader is allowed that rare opportunity to learn the details of family life on the Indiana home front.
The soldier is Irvingtonian Scot Butler (of Butler University fame). We are grateful he had the foresight and ability to protect and preserve those many letters while on the battlefield.
Scot’s great granddaughter Barbara Butler Davis is to be commended for her editorial skills. As you read, it will become obvious that this book is her labor of love. Scot’s transcribed letters carry the book, and Ms. Davis excellent notations compliment and amplify the story throughout. This is a Civil War book unlike most, and belongs in every Civil War library.
--Recommended by Mike Hylton, Irvington Library