March 24th, 2013

pacificparlour

F*** ROBERT MUGABE. THIS IS DETROIT.

Thus did Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, a man capable of ruining a city, keep waiting a man at the time regarded as a freedom fighter, and now recognized as capable of ruining a country.  It's one of the many events recorded in Charlie LeDuff's Detroit: An American Autopsy.  Mr LeDuff is a native of Southeastern Michigan, an itinerant returned home, and Book Review No. 6 suggests his book be viewed both as his own voyage of personal discovery as well as his attempt to make sense of what went wrong with what used to be the Motor City.

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What's sobering about Detroit, though, is that it's the Perfect Storm of safe congressional districts and protected markets and political corruption and education that doesn't educate and business managers that have no idea how the companies they manage actually make things.

Put bluntly, the stuff I've been posting about for years, in the hopes that people won't let it happen to them.

Ignorans quaeris epistolis meis sequi, circumspice.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)
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Boks so far 2013...

Sorry if I'm repeating myself but I can't remember when I last posted! :-/
2013 reads so far:

1.“You are not so smart” by David McRaney
2.“Thomas Hardy: the time torn ma” by Claire Tomalsin
3.“Mrs. Dolly's memory magic”
4.“19 Minutes” by Jodi Picoult
5.“ To kill a mockingbird” by Harper Lee
6.“The Jokes Over” By Ralph Steadman
7.“The ode less travelled” by Stephen Fry
8. “Empire of the Sun” J. G. Ballard
9.“Dreaming of Jupiter” by Ted Simon
10.“The long way down” by Ewan McGregor, Charlie Boorman
11.“The girl who played with fire” by Steig Larsson

To Shorthand, the ones I've enjoyed most so far are "We need to Talk about Kevin" and "The Girl who played with Fire". They were both pretty popular books that I'd heard alot of buzz about (yes, I'm afraid to my detriment I fell into the "I don't want to read it just because it's popular at the moment" trap). 'Kevin' in particular is a book that I think may stay with me for quite a while. A hard read, but a good read. Also, why the hell haven't I read "To kill a Mockingbird" before?! Really brilliant.
Most disappoionting: "The Joke's over" by Ralph Steadman. It was a nice memoir of Steadman talking about his friendhip with Hunter S Thompson, but I found that it really dragged in places and re-hashed a number of stories that Thompson has told with so much more style in the past. I have yet to come across a really great biography of Thompson I think...
raven

Book 55: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield

Book 55: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake .
Author: Jenny Wingfield, 2010.
Genre: Period Fiction. Coming of Age. Family Saga. Religion. Mature Themes.
Other Details: Paperback. 342 pages.

Set during the summer of 1956, the novel opens with the annual reunion of the Moses family, whose home is a farm in Columbia County, Arkansas. The house also happens to have a grocery store attached to one end and a thriving all-night honky-tonk bar at the other. The Lake family is comprised of Samuel, a handsome Methodist preacher, his wife, Willadee, the daughter of John and Calla Moses, and their three children, Noble, Bienville and Swan. When the reunion ends in a family tragedy and Samuel finds himself with no church in the coming year after he is voted out by his congregation, the Lake family remain at the farm to help out. For the kids it is the chance for a summer of fun and adventure while for Samuel it is a time of reflection on his spiritual path and vocation. His situation is further complicated by the attentions of his sister-in-law Bernice, who he had been engaged to for a time in his youth. When Swan makes friends with a young neighbour, who is being abused by his brutal father, the story takes a dark turn and sets in motion a chain of events that will change everyone's lives.

This was another library reading group selection that turned out to be a total winner. I found that within the first few pages I was totally caught up in this powerful tale of an extended family set in rural Arkansas during the mid-50s. That sense of a simpler time is captured beautifully along with the various characters including some that I understand from an on-line interview with Jenny Wingfield had been inspired by her own family as well as events that took place while she was growing up as the daughter of a preacher, who like Samuel Lake found himself without a church for a time.

Ras Ballenger, the villain of the piece is aptly nicknamed 'Satan's Stepson' and is one of the most chilling characters that I have encountered in fiction; a man with no empathy for animals or humans and incapable of showing remorse for the harm he inflicts. There were some scenes within that were disturbing and shocking though essential to the plot. Yet overall its message was an uplifting one of hope and courage.

A number of us at the reading group waxed lyrical about the novel, sharing characters and incidents that had proved memorable. Alongside its darker themes, there is also humour which makes it a rich offering. It is a novel well suited for reading groups as it offers plenty of opportunities for discussion.