The message this week from the SoNo Loft is Adventure Awaits! And indeed it does! Next week I am going on vacation to what is referred to, without irony it should be noted, by the Traveling Companion as The Homeland. The rest of us call it North Carolina, specifically Southern Pines and Pinehurst. The real adventure here is that I will be attending my first major golf tournament. Those who know me realize that this may not be the best fit. But I am going in, I am excited and I will report back. Sweet Ann is also having an adventure next week and will be exploring areas of New York City with one of her sons that she has never been to before. She is excited. Erin and Mallory are going to the Ninety9 Bottle Craft Beer Fest tomorrow in SoNo as their adventure. And they are excited too. So I encourage you all to get out there. The weather promises to be glorious so no excuses will be accepted. Have an adventure this weekend! Try something new. Get excited about it and then report back and let us know what you did. This week we have a Painter, a biologist, a rotary phone, Australia, Norway, a pile, some drinking, Liverpool, Ozarks, pain meds, Nazis, and golf. Because it would appear all roads lead to golf. Playlist? You betcha! Would it be a weekend without one?
Let us begin!
John has been busy. Very, very busy. Here is what he has been working on. “First, there was The Painter, Peter Heller’s second novel. Hellers first book, The Dog Stars, was one of my favorites from 2012 so you can imagine I was anxious to read his second. The storyline was not at all what I expected and I found myself, once again, engrossed in his storytelling. Hellers prose is clean and clear and his descriptions of nature will leave you feeling like you’re standing in a mountain stream, underneath a clear, starry sky. If a novel about vigilante painters piques your interest, you will enjoy this one. I then moved on, and quickly through, the first two books in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy: Annihilation and Authority (the third book comes out in September). This is serious science fiction for connoisseurs of the genre. The series begins are we are dropped into the mysterious ‘Area X’ as a biologist representing an all-female, multi-disciplinary research team. But things start going wrong terribly wrong immediately, just as they did for the dozens and dozens of teams that came before them. This is an eerie and deeply psychological series that will give you goose bumps and keep you turning the pages.”
The Delightful Mallory joined our ranks as a full timer this week and we could not be more pleased. Here is what she has enjoyed recently. “Rainbow Rowell does this thing. She creates these characters, these deeply flawed, difficult characters, and makes you fall desperately in love with them. Rainbow's newest protagonist, Georgie, can be found in the July debut Landline. Georgie is career-driven to a fault, used to getting what she wants, a barely-there mother and wife and she is about to receive the opportunity of a lifetime. In saying yes to this new opportunity, she loses both her husband and two young daughters. And just what is her method of coping? Wearing awful velour track suits and utilizing a magical, time-traveling rotary phone! As Georgie rapidly spirals downward, she also begins to understand what truly matters and what it takes to fix it. Landline is as quick as it is touching, the perfect summer read.”
Miss Elizabeth of the CL has a new obsession. I’ll let her explain. “This week I discovered a new obsession streaming on Netflix (and soon to be available at the library!) Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. Set in the roaring 20's in bustling Australia, the television series follows the entirely glamorous, fabulously wealthy, Honorable Miss Phryne Fisher as she solves crimes around Australia, flies planes, drives fast in wicked-looking cars, wears gorgeous clothing, and has innumerable flirtations with dangerous men. In short, the series is perfect and I cannot recommend it enough. So imagine my joy when I discovered my new favorite TV show is based on a series of detective novels! I raced through the first Phryne Fisher Mystery in just a few days. Cocaine Blues follows Phryne's return to the continent where she was born into poverty many years before, on a mission to determine if the wealthy daughter of an acquaintance is being poisoned by her philandering husband. Drama, intrigue, and delectable descriptions of clothing and luncheons follow. “
Sweet Ann has just finished Days in the History of Silence by Norwegian author Merethe Lindstrom. “I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it is in my top favorite reads of this year. The novel takes place in Norway and centers on the long marriage of Eva, a former teacher and Simon, a retired doctor. It is a very thoughtful and wonderful reflection of a marriage and the secrets that a couple share between themselves. Simon has stopped talking and spends his days in silence and while Eva misses his voice she accepts that silence is the way he deals with his past. Their grown daughter thinks she would be happier if Simon was put in a home. This novel is described as unnerving and it is as Eva, the narrator of this novel, reflects on her marriage and the secrets their shared past. I can't recommend this novel enough and it will stay with you long after you finish reading it.
Abby was abroad last week. Here is one of the titles she is excited about. “BEA provided me with the opportunity to meet authors whose work I have long respected. I was charmed by David Mitchell and enjoyed hearing him speak because of the content of his talk, anticipation over his new novel The Bone Clocks, and on a more superficial note, his wonderful accent. I’ve read a few of his previous books and find him to be a thoughtful writer capable of creating complex worlds. His latest, The Bone Clocks, is at the Top ‘O the To Be Read pile.”
Steph has found some peace in between the covers of the following.” During this past crazy week my respite was Fourth of July Creek, a debut novel by Smith Henderson. I knew I had to check it out after hearing great things about it at BEA, and then getting an email from John with the subject line ‘OMG’ that contained only the link to this book. The story centers around Pete Snow, a social worker in rural Montana who is only slightly less troubled than the families he helps out. His wife and daughter are leaving him, he drinks like a fish, and lives on his own in a cabin. But that’s nothing compared to the dysfunction he sees on a regular basis, especially after he returns a kid to his backwoods survivalist father in a cabin where he is defacing US coinage in preparation for the end of the world. (Believe me, that sentence doesn’t come close to explaining the insanity of Jeremiah Pearl.) As Snow’s life and the lives he manages get increasingly chaotic, his daughter goes missing, her story popping up in between chapters and growing increasingly dire. Sounds cheery, right? Well, it’s a grim book, but a great one. Henderson’s writing is rough and oh-so American, reminding me of Cormac McCarthy by way of Bonnie Jo Campbell, and the story is addictive to the point of making me wish for a train delay. OMG is right!”
Introducing Julia our RA High School Intern! Take it away Julia! I went to my very first BEA last Thursday and met some very cool publishers and authors. I brought home plenty of books that are going on the list to read in the upcoming weeks, including We Are Called to Rise, about a child’s fate told through an immigrant boy, two women, and a young veteran. I’m excited to read these new books, but before I do I had to go back and read a book from years ago that I just never got around to, Gone Girl. I know everyone is probably over it by now, but I’m halfway through and enjoying it immensely. Also, in the past week I’ve gotten a recommendation from Stephanie, the head of Readers’ Services, about the book Red or Dead by David Peace. It’s about The Liverpool Football Club, who, with the help of their beloved coach, make it up the ranks and win the title. I haven’t heard such glowing reviews from a book in a long time, so it’s going on the ever-growing list of novels I’ll make time to read.”
Virginina the Tall Cool Texan is still on the treadmill. Still listening. Go Virginia! “I love a great mystery/thriller, especially as an audiobook, because it makes my workouts go so much faster, and The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh did not disappoint. In fact, it was so outstanding, I am actually sad I already finished it, and wished I would have paced myself a bit more. A young girl living in the Ozark Mountains is haunted by the gruesome death of a friend and goes searching for answers only to find they lead back to the mystery of her missing mother. If you liked Gone Girl, this dark novel is for you. Also, I just finished All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner. The main character, Allison Weiss, is a woman who supposedly has it all; the perfect home, a great husband, a precocious daughter and a wonderful, fulfilling job. Unfortunately, she also has a serious addiction to painkillers. When it spirals out of control her perfect life crumbles around her. While I am not sure I loved this book, I did enjoy it and parts of it have stuck with me. It is worth reading and I think it is going to be a very popular book this summer.”
Pat S is not happy this week. She found Flash Boys by Michael Lewis to be less than satisfying. Here’s her reasoning. ”Now, we all know that I am a longtime fan of all things Michael Lewis, so imagine my delight when I finally got my hands on Flash Boys. The first third of the book introduced the topic of high frequency traders in the finance industry and their ability to game the system by virtue of a technical glitch of ‘micro-seconds’, or ‘frontrunning’ thus affecting the transparency of the market. Lewis focuses on the technological developments in the operation of financial markets which have occurred at such a fast pace that the regulatory board (SEC) has not been able to keep up with them. In his usual style, Lewis gives us a narrative that includes heroes, villains-and the moral high ground. Unfortunately, where in books such as The Big Short, Liars’ Poker and Boomerang Lewis has been able to successfully de-mystify the complex world of the financial industry for the layperson, he misses the boat this time around. I stuck with the book for my book group, but am sorry to say that at the end, I am still not sure of what frontrunning is. On a happier note, neither were the other members of the book group!”
Babs B is doing things a little differently. “This isn’t my typical summer beach read but it is a beautiful novel that shows how courage and hope can be two of the most powerful motivators of all time. The Auschwitz Escape by Joel Rosenberg delves into one of the darkest moments of history. His main character, Jacob Weisz, is faced with the horrific reality of being Jewish in Germany during WWII. Fighting as part of the Resistance, Weisz is captured as he courageously works to free a train full of Jewish prisoners. Taken directly to Auschwitz, Weisz’ only goal is to escape and let the world know of the atrocities being committed at the death camps. Rosenberg was inspired to write this book after his visit to Auschwitz in 2011. You will be inspired at the lengths he goes to survive and I highly recommend this read!”
My pick for you all this week is one that is somewhat selfishly motivated. It’s the first ever pick for the Golf Channel’s newly formed book group and it’s called Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses and Championships by Bill Fields. As I stated in the intro I am going down to Pinehurst and I will be attending my first ever US Open. I am not a sportif person. I don’t really follow anything but Ohio State Football because in my family that is a non-negotiable. My brother Peter is the golf fan. He loves the game and he would take great delight in pointing his finger at me and stating with great confidence that someday I was going to need to know about golf. Of course, I told him with utter confidence I would never need this knowledge. I apologize to my brother and so now here I am, going off to the US Open with Bill Fields. There is a truth in the genius of really beautiful writing and it is this: even when you don’t care about the subject one whit, the writing alone carries you along and draws you in until without realizing it you do, indeed, care. Take for example this first paragraph from his essay entitled King of the Hill:
Sam Snead’s swing used to resemble a Faulkner first sentence. It was long, laced with the perfect pause, and blessed with a powerful ending. Now that he is eighty-four years old it is only slightly less so. He is driving off a tee beside me, on a piece of Florida land that was a swamp way back when and he still purrs.
See? Genius! So think of me next Sunday while I attend my first ever Open and Bill reports on his 30th. And pick up his book in the meantime. An entire channel devoted to the game can’t be wrong. And I know I’m not.
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is in da house to let us know about what’s going on in The State Which Shall Not Be Named. It would appear that she is all about the Adventure. Take it away Patty! “It’s been a rainy week in the Midwest but who am I to complain when the weekends are resplendent with ALL that is summertime? The sun and temperatures here have granted the worker bees a bounty of weekend blessings. The grass is thickly growing underfoot and my organic container garden is sprouting on the balcony. If you have not kicked off your shoes and let loose your tresses, you really need to do that. Do it now, I’ll wait… Life here in the D is bursting with hope, promise and lots and lots of green. I’ve coined it the new Brooklyn. Skinny jeans, flannel and ironic facial hair can be found everywhere, thankfully mostly on the men folk. We are the testing site for self-driving cars, the 10.4 acre living roof of the Ford Rouge Center and home to Hantz Farms, the world’s largest urban farm. Life is an adventure for sure and humans are natural storytellers and creators. So, this week I invite you to get outside, start your own adventure and just for fun change your narrative. Let me know how that goes. Don’t forget to enjoy it with a frosty glass of lemonade. “