"I am always having it pointed out to me that life in Georgia is not at all the way I picture it, that escaped criminals do not roam the roads exterminating families, nor Bible salesmen prowl about looking for girls with wooden legs."
61. Stories and Occasional Prose by Flannery O'Connor (169 pages) The last bit of Flannery O'Connor's work for me to devour. Most of the stories were either rewrites or rough drafts of earlier or later works, but that doesn't diminish any of her amazing skills. Her stories are so full of character that they nearly burst with it. O'Connor is the queen of grotesque writing because she isn't merely grotesque, but grotesque with an illuminating, radiating, graceful beauty that no other short story author ever captured.
Her prose/essays were also fascinating. I particularly enjoyed her piece about her flock of peacocks. Her essays on the Catholic writer and the Southern grotesque certainly show her brilliant and original view of literature, religion, philosophy, and the world itself. She never shied away from the horrific, the grotesque of the world, and in it, she saw the beauty through the possibility of its opposites. No wonder I love her.
62. The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone (300 pages) Flissy is sent to live with her strange American relations while her parents do mysterious work during World War II. While Flissy adapts to her bizarre relatives, each one seemingly nursing a broken heart, she begins to unravel a tragic and complicated past, while dealing with her own first love with orphaned polio victim, Derek. Lovely, touching story that truly captures the complex voice of a young child in a complicated world. Stone captures a young voice confused by the adult world around her and trying to make sense of her own emotions. A beautifully well-told, engaging, sublime coming of age story. Excellent novel for fifth through seventh grades. Grade: A-
"The teachers taught us to like Washington and to respect Jefferson. But Lincoln--him they taught us to love."
"The more history I learn, the more the world fills up with stories."
"We as a people have gone through a grand tectonic shift in the way we think about national parks. Basically, we don't believe in putting crap in the middle of nature anymore."
"That's what we Americans do when we find a place that's really special. We go there and act exactly like ourselves. And we are a bunch of fun-loving dopes."
"I prefer the pen to the sword, so I've always been more of a Jeffersonhead. The words of the Declaration of Independence are so right and true that it seems like its poetry alone would have knocked King George III in the head."
"I think it's one of the reasons I'm so fond of President Lincoln. Because he stared down the crap. More than anyone in the history of the country, he faced up to our most troubling contradiction--that a nation born in freedom would permit the enslavement of human beings--and never once stopped believing in the Declaration of Independence's ideals, never stopped trying to make them come true."
63. The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell (196 pages) Vowell's earlier work is a collection of essays about American life (contemporary and historical) told with humor, anger, enthusiasm, love, and passion. Deeply poignant and thought-provoking, Vowell writes about historical tourism, the Civil War and Lincoln, Salem, patriotism, football, holidays, American culture, families, nature, Roosevelt, and existentialism, all with a passionate, loving, and critical eye that is both engaging and humorous. Wonderful writer. Though, I have to say, I prefer her Wordy Shipmates and Assassination Vacation. Grade: A-
"The mysterious equation of whiskey plus music equals what can only be called happiness."
"When I think about my relationship with America, I feel like a battered wife: Yeah, he knocks me around a lot, but boy, he sure can dance."
64. Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell (219 pages) A collection of Sarah Vowell's essays/stories about her various travels, both internally and externally. The best are her history-travel writings, about Chicago and the heart-wrenching Trail of Tears. Vowell is a lover of America, its culture, history, past and present, and writes like she's having a lover's quarrel with America. The most thought-provoking, humorous, educated, passionate, and justifiably angry lover's quarrel. Brilliant, fascinating, engaging writing. Love Vowell. Grade: A
"Women made the best beekeepers, 'cause they have a special ability built in to love creatures that sting."
65. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (317 pages) Lily Owens, the abused daughter of peach farmer in the south in the 1960s, runs away from home with her nanny, Rosaleen, who got in trouble while trying to register to vote. Lily follows sparse clues left by her mother, who died under mysterious and tragic circumstances, to a family of beekeepers who are devout believers in the Black Madonna and the sacred feminine. A beautiful, moving, and engaging novel, particularly for young women, about the power of maternal forces for good or evil, but ultimately, for redemption. Grade: B+
2011 Page Total: 17896