Great House

Strike 2. I’m on a crap book streak. As much as I loved The History of Love, I was bored by Krauss’ latest. Nothing out of the ordinary, no unique turns of phrase. Elderly woman writer likes her alone time (Shocking!), has desk stolen from her by a woman posing as her old friend’s daughter. Most of the parts of the whole don’t seem cohesive, you have to try too hard to put this together.
Skip it entirely.

Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl

At page 400, I put this down reluctantly. I adore Dahl, but this biography is simply too much, too detailed. I suppose I wanted more focus on his writing process and less about how he spent every single day in the 1960s. He had a writing hut in the English countryside, most of his short stories based on actual events he witnessed or participated in or encouraged.


A quiet, engaging, well-written tale of a lass who leaves her Irish home to make a new life in America post-WWII. She lives in a boarding house, does good work at the shop, learns bookkeeping, goes to the church dances where she meets Tony, an Italian who likes Irish girls. They secretly get married after she lets him sleep with her during her shock period mourning her sister Rose’s death. She heads back to Ireland to keep her Mammy company for a few weeks, extends her vacation, falls in love with Jim but realizes she is already married. Heads back to Brooklyn with unread letters from her husband in her bag.

Birds of America

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Chastised at a party for not knowing who Lorrie Moore is, I immediately fled to the library for a copy of Birds of America. From the first word, Moore clutched my throat and drowned me with delirious, light, witty writing. I could have dog-eared nearly every page to demonstrate quality writing, but left the book unmarred. Lines like “I’m going to marry you till you puke” or ” ‘I think you should see someone,’ said Jack. ‘Are we talking about a psychiatrist or an affair?’ ”
Short stories, tightly packed. Birds and guns and inner turmoil.

Shadow Country

Oh my. This 900 pager is near the top of the list of best books I’ve read this year.
The Watson Legend, retold in three books. Ed “Jack” Watson, a renegade desperado who tries valiantly to prosper legitimately by producing cane syrup on his western Florida island near the Everglades. On the run from the law for several murders he didn’t commit (but a few that he did), he gets a reputation for outlaw killer who murders his workers come payday. Book 1 told from the perspective of everyone who watched him get gunned down in 1910 by a posse/mob. Book 2 told by Lucius, his son (turned history professor), searching for the true killers of his father. Book 3 told by Ed himself (which got off to a bit of a slow start for me, but 20 pages in, I was back to being enthralled).
Conveys the dreamy, otherworldly qualities about the swamplands of south Florida. Great writing, of course.
To Lucius, investigating his father’s life in Fort White:

Working his toothpick, the Deacon frowned and muttered, patting the pockets of memory for something lost. “Born right here in this ol’ town and I ain’t been back in years,” he sighed, “and it ain’t like I live so far away. Eleven miles! Just goes to show how life leaks away when you ain’t paying attention. One day you look up, look around, and the world is empty. Not empty exactly but something is wrong, there ain’t no color left to life.”