For any reader who revels in confident, lyrical prose â€“ rich in detail with meticulously chosen words â€“ Alice Greenwayâ€™s book will enchant.
The storyline focuses on the elderly and irascible ornithologist Jim Kennoway, who, at the end of his career, retreats to a Maine island after his leg is amputated. There, tortured by past memories and fortified by alcohol and solitude, he eschews the company of others. Yet early on, he receives an unwanted visitor: Cadillac, the daughter of Tosca, who teamed with him as a scout to spy on the Japanese army in the Solomon Islands.
I can honestly say that I have not read a book so evocative of place and time since reading anything by Faulkner.
May 27, 2011
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: Bellevue, Identity, Maine, Memory, Nature Â· Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Contemporary, Debut Novel, End-of-Life, Literary, NE & New York, Pulitzer Prize, y Award Winning Author
As the title suggests, this is a book about living close to nature, or rather, being a part of nature while cognizant of that important and salient fact. For, what more can we be reminded of, if not reminded that we are biology first? It is easy to forget that we are made of the salt of the sea and the grist the land, that atoms and molecules somehow cohere and survive and become…us. That is the delicate core of the quiet little book. We are of nature, let us not forget. The writing in this tradition is long and rich and deep. Henry David Thoreau to Audubon to Anne Dillard and E.O. Wilson–all master practitioners of the genre. And now Susan Hand Shetterly. She is in heady company and she belongs there. This book is spellbinding.
In the isolated Soborg Institute off the coast of Maine, obsessive geneticist Victor Aaron works tirelessly to make a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research with his capable, motley crew of colleagues. Since his wife, Sara, died several years ago, he has walled himself off emotionally from relationships, frustrating his twenty-five year-old girlfriend, Regina, a research fellow and budding poet. He is fifty-eight and suffering from impotence. She is a potent, burlesque-loving young woman that dances naked for him on their routine weekly rendezvous. They keep a regular regimen of Fridays and a secret email exchange at work.
Without much ado, let me state that I think this book is brilliant. It took my breath away and grabbed me by my heart from the first page till its stunning coda. Without being maudlin or histrionic, Ayelet Waldman’s RED HOOK ROAD examines the impact of loss and grief on two families, each as different as day and night. In the first chapter of the book, the reader is spectator to a profound tragedy. A young couple, married for about one hour, die in a car accident on the way to their own wedding reception.
What happens when you take an ordinary small town in rural Maine and put a lid on it? An invisible, tougher than Superman, nearly impermeable dome of a lid that extends into the sky nearly 50,000 feet?
At more than 1,000 pages, quite a lot. Kingâ€™s latest is not so much a horror tale as a horrifying thriller â€“ the dome is a mystifying fact; itâ€™s the people under it that get really scary. In Kingâ€™s vision, cutting a town off from the world â€“ from accountability – leaves the bullies in charge. Perhaps a different town would have had a different result, but I suspect (on no evidence) that King thinks bullies are attracted to small-town authority.