Thursday, February 11, 2010

2001 Part 1

2001 was busy. Except for an Adolescent Literature class during the summer, I was finally finished with school. I had a variety of part-time ESL teaching jobs. One of the highlights of the year was that I got a chance to visit Larry McMurtry's bookstore in Archer City. Even better, he was there sorting books! What can I say? He's my Lit Hero.

1. Son Of The Morning (novel) - Joyce Carol Oates. LitAmnesia. Dang.

2. On Writing (nonfiction) - Stephen King. In the first part, King discusses the influences that shaped him from a very early age. The second part is advice to would-be writers and the last part deals with his near-fatal pedestrian accident in 1999 and his long road to recovery and how it affected his writing. A very short book, especially by King standards, but quite satisfying. Highly recommended.

3. Helen Keller (nonfiction) - Dorothy Herrmann. I liked this bio much better than the genteelly restrained Joseph P. Lash biography published in 1980. Keller comes off here more like a real human. Usually, she seems almost abstract or the patron saint of physical challenges. Herrmann gets more in-depth with the temestuous relationship between Helen and her teacher, Anne Sullivan, Helen's ardent support of socialism, her feelings about sexuality and other previously little-known facts.

4. Anything For Billy (novel) - Larry McMurtry. McMurtry's take on the Billy The Kid legend.

5. Boone's Lick (novel) - Larry McMurtry. This novel is narrated by 15-year-old Shay, but his mother is the real main character and heroine. Mary Margaret Cecil has been waiting placidly in Boone's Lick, Missouri for her husband to make his fortunes in the west. Dick (appropriately named, I might add) comes home every couple of years then he's off again. Finally, one day Mary Margaret packs up her large and extended family and travels west to find Dick. During the long journey, the family makes a surprising discovery about Dick's years away from home. There's a dry comedic tone that makes this book a pleasurable reading experience.

6. One Child (nonfiction) - Torey L. Hayden. A disturbed young elementary student is angry and nonresponsive, due to a mother who abandoned her and a father who abuses her. Sheila is put in Torey Hayden's class. Torey's skills as a caring teacher slowly bring her around and in the process, it is discovered that the child is highly intelligent.

7. The Widower's Son (novel) - Alan Sillitoe. LitAmnesia. I really hate when this happens with English authors. I always feel as if I should have a few points shaved off my IQ.

8. Saratoga Trunk (novel) - Edna Ferber. Creole beauty Clio Dulaine and Texan Clint Maroon meet up in New Orleans in the mid-1800s, hit it off and decide to team up in order to fleece some robber barons at Saratoga. Clint wants to become very rich and Clip's dream is to marry respectably, unlike the other women in her family. Ferber describes New Orleans lovingly and thoroughly. When the action is moved to Saratoga, you can percieve Ferber's interest dropping off considerably. Sadly, for the sake of the plot, this is precisely when and where the novel needs the most energy. Ultimately, it's a fail, but I'll always treasure this book for those early scenes in New Orleans, particularly the one where Clio eats jambalaya for the first time.

9. While I Was Gone (novel) - Sue Miller. zzzzzzzzttt! LitAmnesia strikes again. It always happens with Sue Miller, Elizabeth Berg and Kaye Gibbons. I'm sorry, ladies. I really don't understand why.

10. Private Demons: The Secret Life Of Shirley Jackson (biography). This was a reread. Actually, make that a re-re-reread. One of my favorite biographies. Oppenheimer had the full cooperation of all 4 of Jackson's children, her many friends and scads of correspondence at her disposal. She puts it all together with a discerning eye and doesn't overload the reader with the need to not waste a drop of research as some biographers do. Best of all, she's got a very warm and natural writing style. Highly recommended. If you see Private Demons at your library or in a used bookstore, go ahead and grab it. You won't be sorry.

No comments:

Post a Comment