Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Little Lewis & Clark

Here is the review I did on Goodreads of a very interesting book, The Suppressed History of America by Schrag & Haze.  It wasn't exactly what I expected, but ended up being very interesting regarding the controversial death of Meriwether Lewis, particularly. 


Excellent account of the Lewis & Clark Expedition with chapters dealing with earlier events on this Continent that would surprise most people. The book also gives four possible scenarios explaining Lewis's death, one of which is so well supported by the historic events leading up to it (involving the treason of Aaron Burr and James Wilkinson and others) that it leaves little doubt what truly happened to the American hero. Lots of intrigue and cover-ups in America's past...not surprising, since we have that in the present!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Ordinary Daylight

                          I thoroughly enjoyed reading an autobiography by Andrew Potok.
                                                 
                                                 The name of it.... "Ordinary Daylight".


I am not sure what compelled me to read it but something drew me to it nonetheless. I do love true stories written by either the person who lived the story or otherwise.

Andrew was a very gifted painter. His life seemed to be just about perfect. He'd just passed age 40 when he began to go blind. He had retinitis pigmontosa. This was a hard blow for him. How was he to paint when he could not tell one color or shape from another? He began a roller coaster ride of deep depression, anger and hate.

He would do anything to be able to see again. So, he fell victim to the promise of a 'cure'. There was a woman in London who swore she had helped hundreds of blind people to see again. She did it through her bees. For months Andrew let her bees sting his neck so that their venom would go to his retina and he would see. Sometimes he thought it was working. Sometimes he thought he must have lost his mind to subject himself to such treatment.

Finally he returns to the U. S., more blind than ever, resentful, scared, alone. And, then he begins to learn to accept his blindness, to learn how to live with it and to turn his gift of painting into a gift of writing.

It's a very open and honest account of a desperate time in a persons life. I recommend this if you like to see people come from the darkness into light. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Two Very Different Books

One is a quiet, easy read with familiarity of characters growing slowly.  Very understated in its style...as someone else described "a slow simmer."  That would be Nora Webster by Colm Toibin.  I can't say I disliked this book, but it wasn't a style I am used to.  Nora is going through the grief over losing her husband, and the journey of finding her own voice.  She seems to bow to what others want her to do at first and then slowly realizes she can choose for herself.  She is very likeable and so are her children, but I expected more depth to their lives and was somewhat disappointed, especially as one son appears to be having a seriously difficult tinme with the loss of his father, and Nora doesn't really address his needs at first.  It is set in 1968-70 approx. Ireland with some political upheaval from the time coming through, but generally the book is about the everyday lives of she and her children in minute detail.  I kept expecting the pace to pick up, but it did not. 


The second book couldn't have been more action-packed.  It is filled with a myriad of fascinating characters and events that detail life in Hawaii in the years leading up to and during World War II, but also the affects the times had on the characters as they go from New Orleans to Paris to Shanghai and back to Hawaii.  Song of the Exile, by Kiana Davenport is definitely a page-turner, and it is NOT boring.  Much of what the author describes is very raw and brutal.  Her characters are real and very interesting, and the reader becomes involved in their lives and their emotions.  However, the prose is so florid, it is "too much" at times.  Some turns of phrase were wonderfully written; others made me say "what???"  Davenport also shows us the courage and pain and horror the "Comfort Women" went through during WWII and for that she is to be commended.  That tragedy of the War is something we should not forget.  I really liked the book, but it was an experience!  So many beautifully crafted sentences, poetically describing this world; so many events spanning the globe in scope! 

 
Mom wrote an excellent review of this book when she read it, I think, last year.  HERE is the link to what she had to say.  Read them both and make up your own mind how you feel about these different writing styles, and which one you prefer!  I, personally, especially enjoy something somewhere in between the two.  I love poetic prose, and the page-turning writing, but I also love some of the more understated qualities of Toibin's book.  I'd love to see reviews of either book by any of you out there, and get your thoughts on what makes a great read!