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“The Cold Millions” is a big (figuratively speaking) beautiful work of historical fiction. The story revolves around the very real 1909 organizing and fundraising campaign of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in Spokane, Washington and the also very real activities of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. The story begins with the shooting death of a policeman, Alfred Waterbury, while investigating a burglary in one of the wealthy neighborhoods of Spokane. This shooting causes the somewhat…
“Monogamy” is an exploration of marriage, family and friendship. Sometimes the people in those relationships are happy and sometimes, apparently most of the time, they are misunderstood and unknowable. Annie has been divorced for about seven years when she meets Graham at the opening of his bookstore. Graham too is divorced, from Frieda, with whom he has a son, Lucas. Annie is petite and attractive while Graham is a big man with an apparent hunger…
“Jack” is a love story…sort of. The time is uncertain, post-World War II, and Jack is living in St. Louis, recently released from prison. He meets Della, and they fall in love. Jack has just been released from prison and is wearing a dark suit. He is walking around St. Louis on a rainy, windy day and steals the umbrella from a man asleep on a park bench. He sees a woman drop her papers…
“The Night Watchman” is a snapshot of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa during a very eventful time in 1953-1954. As best explained by the author, “On August 1, 1953, the United States Congress announced House Concurrent Resolution 108, a bill to abrogate nation-to-nation treaties, which had been made with American Indian Nations ‘for as long as the grass grows and the rivers flow'”. This effort attempted to terminate five tribes, including the Turtle Mountain…
“The Splendid And The Vile” focuses “on Churchill’s first year as prime minister, May 10, 1940 to May 10, 1941, which coincided with the German air campaign as it evolved from sporadic, seemingly aimless air raids to a full-on assault against the city of London.” The book “is a more intimate account that delves into how Churchill and his circle went about surviving on a daily basis; the dark moments and the light, the romantic…
“Sorry for Your Trouble” is a collection of nine short stories by one of my favorite authors, Richard Ford. In each story there is some connection to Ireland and there is always a lawyer. Most of the stories involve a man in late middle age who has a connection to New Orleans or some other town in Louisiana. And each story has an existential end of life feel to it. In the first story, “Nothing…
ALERT: this review is one giant spoiler. It is impossible to give you a sense of this book without giving away the key aspects of the plot. So let me start with a few points before you decide to read on. First, if you do not like Hillary Clinton, do not read this book. However, if you do not like Bill Clinton, you might want to read this book! Are you torn? A few more…
“A Long Petal Of The Sea” is a moving, brilliantly conceived historical novel that follows the lives of Victor Dalmau and his wife, Roser, through the Spanish Civil War, the Chilean coup and beyond. The novel describes human cruelty, strength and perseverance through a compelling and emotional form of storytelling that is quintessential Isabel Allende. Victor Dalmau joins the Republican Army in Spain in 1936, fighting Franco and his nationalist forces. Victor had been a…
Anne Tyler writes about the extraordinary in the ordinary. “Redhead by the Side of the Road” is a beautiful example of her prototypical story telling. Micah Mortimer is in his early forties and his life is just sort of slipping along. “You have to wonder what goes through the mind of a man like Micah Mortimer. He lives alone; he keeps to himself; his routine is etched in stone.” Micah’s routine includes an early morning…
Writers & Lovers is a life affirming novel about all that can go wrong and all that can go right in one person’s life. Casey (nee Camila) Peabody is a down on her luck writer, living in a potting shed and working as a waitress at a restaurant near Harvard University called Iris. “I have to eat at the restaurant. I can’t afford more than cereal and noodles.” She is deeply in debt and suffering…