Greetings and welcome to the first You Are What You Read for the Summer of 2015! First of all a big YAWYR shout out to Priscilla S for her taffy contribution from her beloved Block. Thanks Priscilla! You’re the best! We could talk about Father’s Day and the Summer Solstice on Sunday but why do the expected thing? You all know me better than that by now. Here’s what I am really concerned about. I don’t know about you all, but I am concerned about some disturbing aquatic events this week. Can it be a coincidence that it’s our first summer weekend, Jaws will be shown in select theaters across the country in honor of the 40th anniversary of its premier and the news that there have been not one but two attacks in North Carolina and now a brand new one down in Florida? While the experts like to assure us that this is not the norm, that sharks don’t randomly look at people as an amuse bouche, these attacks feel too close together to be a watery quirk. Think it can’t happen here? Think again People! Have you heard of Mary Lee? She’s a Great White that was tagged off Cape Cod in 2012. She’s an adorable 16 feet, with a wide toothy grin and weighs in at a mere 3,456 pounds. Of course, she has her own Facebook page and a rather hilarious Twitter feed where you can see just what our girl is up to. In May, she was up here hanging out off Fire Island and Jones Beach. Apparently the LI Beach scene was not exciting enough for her so early in the season or she heard about the Khardasahians returning. I mean, even a cartilaginous fish has some taste. She has moved her forever swimming self down the coast towards Florida. I say Florida is welcome to her. Want to avoid a shark attack? The experts advise avoiding swimming at dawn and dusk, don’t swim alone, don’t go into the water if bleeding, leave off the shiny jewelry and try not to swim near wharfs where people are fishing. As always, I like to give you all news you can use. This week we have a widow, Nantucket, Natchez, Paris (naturally) and some politics. The Playlist? Get those shark hands ready!
Let us begin!
Sweet Ann loved Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. “This is a small book that will stay with the reader for a long time. Addie Moore, a widow, approaches her neighbor, Louis Waters, a widower, and asks him if he is willing to sleep with her at night. She does not want a sexual relationship; she wants the comfort of someone being in her bed again and talking before sleeping. Louis is a little surprised at first but does take her up on her offer. They fall into a pattern of sharing life both past and present that is just heartwarming. Of course they have to deal with the small town gossips but they are able to rise above it all. Addie's grandson comes to spend time with her, as his parents, struggle in their marriage. She and Louis give Jamie the fun times he should be having at home. This situation with the grandson will lead to hard choices for both Addie and Louis and the outcome made me quite angry. I thought this was a wonderful book and can't recommend it enough.”
Caroline doesn’t have a whole lot of time being the mother of twin boys. So when she endorses something we all need to pay attention. “I finished this book in only 2 naptimes, which tells you what a page-turner it is. The Rumor, by Elin Hilderbrand, is a perfect summer read, whether you are literally heading to Nantucket, or just imagining it from here. The story focuses on two married couples and their teenage children. On the small island, lives are interwoven, rumors abound, and few relationships are as they seem. There are actually a couple crossover characters with her 2009 book, The Castaways, which is fun if you remember that one too.”
Abby has another series she’s endorsing. “I'm a long-time fan of Greg Iles and thought he did a wonderful job with Natchez Burning. Following that is his latest The Bone Tree, book 2 of what will be a trilogy. Going back to the civil rights struggles of the Deep South, Natchez Burning tells of white supremacist groups such as the KKK, and those who oppose them. Penn Cage is a former prosecutor turned novelist. When his wife dies of cancer, he moves back to his hometown of Natchez, Mississippi so his parents can help him with his 3 year old daughter. Penn's revered father Tom, a physician who treated patients regardless of color or class, becomes embroiled with a nastier off-shoot of the KKK. Both Natchez Burning and The Bone Tree deal with the repercussions of Tom's sometimes inexplicable actions along with the granddaddy of all conspiracies: who killed JFK. At 800 pages, The Bone Tree drags out some plot lines, requires some suspension of belief, and gets a bit convoluted, but when dealing with a major conspiracy it would be hard not to. I preferred Natchez Burning to The Bone Tree, but the overall success of the trilogy will be judged on how they work together. I'll set aside a good chunk of reading time and be first in line when Book 3 comes out.”
Laura has just finished Patrick Modiano's Missing Person. “This is a different and more poetic kind of mystery without the classic resolution of a crime solved, and justice served. Instead, the story follows the intimate journey of a man's quest to find his identity that was sometime during the Nazi Occupation of Paris. The setting is Paris, the time is 1965 France and through the course of winnowing down clues he travels the streets of Paris, the countryside of France, Russia and Los Angeles, looking for anyone who can identify a man in the photograph which is himself. As the reader, I felt treated to a view of Europe après war, where everyone's identity was fogged due to destruction of their world. Where detectives normally gather clues, Roland collects mementos; more photographs, a book, letters, a faded magazine, from the people he interviews. It is these tidbits of memories that he uses to piece his person together. At times the story floats in and out of view but the writing is beautiful. It is a good short read, and in the end it is not at all what you expected.”
Steph is here with a last minute gift suggestion for Father's Day. "This week I’ve been reading the latest from Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Joseph Ellis: The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789. Ellis asserts that the saga of creating and ratifying the Constitution is just as important as the American Revolution in our country’s history, or perhaps even moreso. These days, we think of the Constitution as an almost sacred document, created by the Founding Fathers in a fit of great wisdom. In fact, the meetings and editorials and politicking around this crucial document were no less partisan and pitched than those around modern legislation. Even the Bill of Rights barely made it through! Without a concerted effort by the quartet Ellis focuses on—Washington, Hamilton, Jay, and Madison—it’s likely we would not be one big United States of America today. As ever, Ellis’s research and writing are engaging, bringing American politics out of the realm of portraits and into the real world. If you haven’t gotten a Father’s Day gift for the dad in your life who can’t get enough of politics and history, scoop this one up."
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here with some final thoughts for us and of course our soundtrack for the weekend. What’s good, Pats? “This weekend marks the Summer Solstice, Father’s Day, car shows, the season of the backyard BBQ and I’m thinking about sharks. Sharks come in various shapes, colors and sizes. There are over 400 species that swim in the oceans. As a child I was terrified of sharks due to the movie Jaws. I’ve discovered that sometimes in the shallows, when you feel like you’re in a safe place, a shark can still find you. Remember to just keep swimming.”
DL JUST KEEP SWIMMING 2015