Archive for November, 2009
Two young people caught in a mundane existence are at the heart of REVOLUTIONARY ROAD by Richard Yates. April and Frank Wheeler, formerly lively Greenwich Village singles, have become an ordinary suburban Connecticut married couple. The book is just as poignant now as it was when it was first published in 1961. Named one of Timeâ€™s top one hundred novels of the 20th century, it was re-released in time for the December 2008 movie version.
Set in the 1960s, Amanda C. Gableâ€™s debut novel, THE CONFEDERATE GENERAL RIDES NORTH spans two pivotal times in American history: the Civil War and the century-later Civil Rights movement. Eleven year old Kat, a Civil War buff, finds herself on a sudden trip from Marietta, Georgia to Maine with her manic-depressive mother who has decided to start her own antiques store up north. At first, Kat believes that they are on vacation, but the signs are immediately evident to the reader: her mother is leaving her father. Not until days later does Kat discover that her mother intends for this move to be permanent. Kat, loyal to her mother as well as to those family members left behind, finds herself emotionally under siege.
One evening, Christian decides that he wants to pick up a prostitute for the first time in his life. He drives around in a certain part of London and sees a young woman dressed provocatively. He turns his car around and asks her how much she charges. She tells him that her price, when she did work, was 500 pounds, and this is a lot more than Christian could ever afford. However, she asks him for a ride home and their relationship begins then. Roza, the young woman, is the daughter of a partisan of Tito’s army and she begins to beguile Chris with Scheherazade-like stories about her life night after night.
Set in Australia, AFTER THE FIRE, A STILL SMALL VOICE, skillfully tracks two narratives, each struggling to escape fateful trajectories. One, the story of Leon, traces his arrival on the continent, the child of European immigrants in the 1950s. Leon, his mother and father set up a pastry shop in Sydney turning out tarts and cakes. They live well, until, that is, his father volunteers to fight in the Korean War. He returns shattered and broken, and so Leonâ€™s world is ruptured. An irreconcilable course is set and years later Leon is conscripted as a machine gunner in Vietnam. There he realizes a nascent thirst for violence which will shadow him presumably the rest of his days.
One of my earliest childhood memories involves singing â€śRing-A-Ring Oâ€™ Rosesâ€ť with some fellow kindergarteners. We assumed the rhyme was some general gibberish especially because in our modified version it became â€śRing Around the Rosesâ€ť and we substituted â€śHushaa Hooshaâ€ť for the actual â€śAtishoo, Atishoo.â€ť Many years later, I found out that the rhyme might have a darker connation with it signifying people collapsing to the plague.
On her way to work, Lilli Chischilly finds two dead coyotes on the hood of her truck. She knows itâ€™s a message but hasnâ€™t figured out who, what or why. Lilli buried the coyotes, but thatâ€™s just the first piece of a mystery that grows in size and complexity every time she turns around. A murdered Navajo man found in the Badlands with coyote reproductive parts shoved down his throat; a series of photographs of a girl taken by her friend from long ago, Jerome Bah; political favors wanted from the presidential front runner; and another man who wants to kill the candidate to revenge a family wrong from the past. Somehow they all connect.