Today’s Saturday Mornings for Kids is also for adults. It is for anyone dealing with being a Southpaw. These two books are easy enough for kids to read, with plenty of cartoons, but interesting enough for adults to enjoy. It is the perfect book for parents and grandparents to teach a kid to celebrate rather than curse his/her left-handedness.
The first book deals with famous left handers as well as encouraging facts about being left handed.
The Natural Superiority of The Left Hander has many fun-filled facts with great illustrations about left handed people. The book was published in 1979 and is dedicated to “the citizens of Left Hand, West Virginia, population 450, and every one a Left Hander.”
Did you know that in the UK, it is against the rules to play polo left-handed? This rule even applied to King Charles, who in his polo playing days was known as The Prince of Wales. There are more left-handed boys than girls, and no reason has been found…YET! Did you know that there’s on population where left-handers are in the majority? Among gorillas!
Many more facts and issues of left-handedness are explored, and they are presented in a fascinating manner–even to righties like me!
This post has been presented by Right-Handed Rae in honor and appreciation of her Leftie Friends!
I have read both Commonwealth and The Dutch House, two of Patchett’s NY Times bestsellers, so I had been exposed to her expertise as a novelist. Imagine my great pleasure to discover she is equally adept as an essayist. This large print edition’s cover, published in 2009 caught my eye at the local library. I took it home, and put it on my bedside shelf. The painting of the dog, with its post-impressionistic connotations, made me curious about the artist, whom was written about in the title essay, ” These Precious Days.” Had it been a short story, I would argue it was a novelette, judging from its length. However, it is non-fiction, reflecting a true experience of the author; so instead, it is a very long essay.
“Precious Days” chronicles the author’s friendship with a publicist/assistant of Tom Hanks named Sookie, who came to live with Patchett and her husband as she took on exhausting cancer treatments at a hospital in their town. The friendship that grew between the two women, actually, the three adults, was nothing short of amazing. And anyone would have liked to become a friend of the creative, courageous, paragon of a positive attitude as was Sookie. I was so relieved that Sookie was alive at the end of the essay (although her death date is given in the Epilogue) that I wanted to shout, “Way to go, girl!”
My second two favorites were “Eudora Welty, an Introduction” written for The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty, published in 1980, when Welty was 71. Interestingly enough, Patchett had met Welty as a young girl at a reading, at which Welty signed one of her books for her precocious reader, Patchett.
I also enjoyed “There Are No Children Here,” which recounts how Patchett appeared on the same platform as a fellow, unnamed author who contended that until one had children, they’d never experienced love. Because I wanted to be a teacher more than I wanted to be a mother, and felt I couldn’t do both and do them well, I chose not to have children, so, of course, I cheered Patchett on when she disagreed and said, ” …I have to tell you, people without children have known love , and we are [real] writers.” I couldn’t agree more.
This particular book of essays was nice for “picking up and putting down,” sporadic reading. I found myself reading an essay or two, then devouring a whole novel, or watching episodes of Netflix series in between essays. The structure of this collection was conducive to this, and it made for a variety of reading sessions for the four weeks I kept it from circulating at the library. It is a fine collection of literary essays by a fine writer, one of my new favorites–Ann Patchett.
The Shipping News was one of my favorite books–ever. This novel, Accordion Crimes
by the same author was not as engaging but a darned good read in its own right. The metaphor or theme was pure genius: a small green accordion which was passed from owner to owner over the decades, and character sketches of its various owners.
Written in 1996, the novel has been called by critics, “a masterpiece of storytelling.” It begins in 1890s’ Sicily, where the accordion maker fashions the small, elegant accordion. He and his son immigrate to America with dreams of opening a music store. They come to live in New Orleans, and when the accordion maker is murdered, the green accordion falls into the hands of someone who carried it onward to Iowa, then to Texas.
The music of the accordion is the “last link to their pasts ” for Mexicans, Africans, Poles, Germans, Norwegians, Irish, Basques, and Franco Canadians, as the instrument moves from owner to owner, family to family. It “becomes their voice[s] for their fantasies, sorrows, and exuberance[s],” all of which Proulx shares with the reader. The novel introduces many, many characters, each a representative of their ethnicity as the accordion travels across the continent and back. There is a surprise ending, which brings the reader’s memory all the way back to a forgotten event/detail. This novel is a darned good read.
Ruth Ozeki’s The Book of Form and Emptiness was a real challenge to read.
To begin with, the narrator of this novel is a Book. Yes, you read that right, a book; a story, the story of Benny Oh, a young boy who hears the voice of the Book, his story. His mother Annabelle, is never the same after the death of Benny’s father, who is killed in a grotesque accident–meaningless and bizarre. In the novel she becomes a recluse and a hoarder. Benny takes “refuge [from his strange life] in the silence of a large public library.”He meets a homeless, wheelchair-bound philosopher and poet and a mesmerizing young woman, both classified as imaginary friends by the psychiatrist who takes on Benny’s case, but who turn out to be real people he met at the library. (Even the reader comes to doubt Benny for one awful moment–I did.)
There is a run in with CPS, incarceration in a mental hospital for Benny, and a job loss for Annabelle. All of these semi-unrelated events come together in an implausible but satisfying ending. The novel is at times humorous, and at times heartbreaking . Above all, the book is difficult to read, and I am still trying to decide whether sticking with it was worth the huge effort.
Nora Stephens, an agent who almost always gets the best deals for her clients has been dumped at the beginning of the story. She misses her mother, who has died and feels responsible for her younger sister, Libby, but lives a driven life as a career woman. She meets Charlie, a hot-shot editor, for lunch only to be told he doesn’t want anything to do with her client’s latest effort. Their relationship develops along the lines of “a small-town love story” with “all the familiar tropes–” “hot-shot from NY or LA gets shipped off to Small town USA–to, like, run a family [owned business].” This outsider falls for a small-town farm/business “person who has true values and stays forever” on account of him/her.
The Nora-Charlie plot follows the “plot” of a fictional novel, Once in a Lifetime, which Nora is promoting and Charlie is forced by his publishing house to edit. Nora thinks to herself early on, “Charlie doesn’t want to work with me, and I don’t want” to work with him. Their relationship begins as a dislike and builds almost to hate category, all the while feeling a strong physical attraction which neither wants to admit. This makes for humorous miscommunications and misunderstandings. In this instance, both protagonists are Big City people, thrown together in tiny Sunshine Falls. A second love interest for Nora, Shepherd, a farmer with a heart of gold turns out to be Charlie’s cousin, which further complicates matters.
As you can tell, there are frequent twists and turns which all the while are underscored with a strong passion that torments both parties afflicted.
It is a modern romance complete with likable/unlikeable main characters and interesting secondary characters who fill out the novel’s cast. I checked this book out of my local library after reading a lot of positive reviews about it. I was only slightly disappointed.
Tonight (6/18) I want to review a book I read a couple of weeks ago, but never wrote a review on.
At the risk of labeling my self “old,” I must confess I had always heard the term “fan fiction,” but never knew what it meant until I read this novel. Several of my students have mentioned various semesters that they wrote fan fiction in their teens, but later branched out and wrote stories, poems, and “pieces” of their own. Cath,(twin to Wren) the protagonist of this YA novel, is the ultimate Simon Snow fan and writes alternate stories to Snow’s author, sometimes even before the next book is published. She has a huge following, but she keeps her identity a secret from her followers.
The twins are ready to start college, and Cath is bemused by Wren’s decision to room with another girl rather than with her twin sister. As they begin their freshman year, apart for the first time, the girls begin separate lives and separate interests and friends.
The novel includes the themes of a parent who left, roommate relationships, romantic complexities, betrayal, and the true meaning and kinds of friendships.
I heard about this book in a magazine review and ordered it online from a bookseller. It turned out to be a “darned good read.”
Today’s Tuesday Teaser is from a novel I finished last night . Anne Tyler is one of my favorite contemporary authors, and I have read most of what she’s written over the years.
The teaser is from the two main characters, Mercy and Robin recalling their sweet, innocent wedding night. Robin says…
” ‘…And then you came out of the bathroom in your slinky white satin nightie.’
‘And you looked away,’ Mercy said. ‘You looked off toward the bedroom window.’
‘I was trying to get control of myself, ‘ he said.’ “
Tyler is at her best doing what she does best here–describing the lives of ordinary middle-aged people. The book has been described as a “journey into one family’s foibles from the 1950s up to our pandemic present.” It deals with family complexities and the “kindnesses and cruelties of our daily life.” Even in the smallest details, Tyler captures the dailyness of our lives. Take for example when Mercy and Robin’s grown kids would come to visit, the first thing Robin would ask was, “How was the traffic on the beltway?” It reminded me that each time we would go to visit our folks in Virginia after marrying and relocating in Texas, the first thing everyone would ask was, “How long are you here for?”
Mercy and Robin Garret and their children Allie, Lily, and David are the well-developed characters in this 2022 novel. Their development and changes in character are demonstrative of Tyler’s forte, characterization. Of any contemporary author, Tyler does this best. Personally, I choose characterization over plot any day to peak and hold my interest, and perhaps this is the reason I enjoy Anne Tyler’s novels so much.
This book, which I ordered from an independent bookstore, complete with a bookplate signed by the author and virtual attendance at an interview/event held by the bookstore was one of my favorite reads of 2022. Published in 2020 by my favorite science fiction writer, N. K. Jemisin, this sci fi novel takes place in New York City. Many of you who have followed my blog know about my fascination with NYC, so you can imagine how fast I ordered this book after reading about it coming out. It was everything I had hoped for and more.
The City We Became is Jemisin’s first book in The Great Cities Trilogy. Neil Gaiman declares it to be “Glorious,” and, indeed it is.
“Every city has a soul. Some are ancient as myths; others are as new as children. New York? She’s got six–and all six will be called to arms in the greatest battle the city has ever fought.” The story opens with an exciting, terrifying scene where a young man, later identified as Manhattan, encounters monsters and catastrophic activity in “The Battle of FDR Drive” in chapter one. Each of New York’s boroughs makes up a team of individuals who must fight creatures from an alternate universe who seek to destroy NYC and eventually the Earth.
Set in contemporary NYC, this “modern masterpiece of culture, identity, magic, and myth,”has just whetted my appetite for the second book in the series, presumably set in Paris; then I think it’s on to London for the final book in the series. I can hardly wait!
Angela Boulley has a series-worthy hit that resonates in her YA thriller, The Fire Keeper’s Daughter. Eighteen-year-old-high school senior, half French, half Ojibwe, Daunis Fontaine, finds herself in the middle of a murder, and is recruited as an undercover operative for the FBI. An award-winning novel, this 2021 publication was also a recent pick for Reese Witherspoon’s YA Book Club.
The characters were handled beautifully, speaking and acting like realistic eighteen to twenty-year-olds.. This includes the language they use, their sexual feelings and activities and their feelings of hopelessnessg that life on the reservation (or in its nearby town) bring. Daunis dreams of the new start that going to college next year will provide. Levi, her all-star hockey player older brother; Jamie, the twenty-two-year-old love interest; and her best friend, whose boyfriend killed her in front of Daunis, are all drawn excellently. Memorable characterization is the main thing I look for in a novel, so I was very impressed with this author.
As advertised on the cover, this YA offering is “rare and mesmerizing.” It celebrates the Native American experience as Daunis builds relationships with her relatives, coaches, and other adults involved. She learns that some of the investigators she assists are more concerned with their case than in protecting the victims. A second murder heightens the suspense and confirms Daunis’s fears. The ending is action-packed and leaves the reader holding their breath as they follow the central characters into perilous situations.
This 1944, WWII publication, has been described as a “memory drama.” Judging from the photos on the cover, it has been made into a good movie, which I wish I’d seen as well as read the novel. The narrative opens as Charles Ryder, a British officer, approaches the estate of Brideshead, to determine its suitability for billeting troops. He does not, at first, tell his fellow officers that he has been there before.
Waugh’s dissatisfaction with the Catholic Church, much like his dissatisfaction with the funeral industry in The Loved One, is expressed through satiric humor, which makes many somber philosophical points. Death, in general, is also satirized humorously as in the scene near the end of the old man’s death, presented in dark-humored detail. Waugh cleverly presents the conflict between the demands of religion and the narrator’s physical desires. The descriptions of the countryside, and especially, architecture, are stunning and provide pleasure to the reader. The love triangle between Charles Ryder, Sebastian, and his sister, Julia is a strange and complicated one. The characters, including the mother are complex and carefully developed. This “elegant, lyrical novel” demands the reader stay alert to the narrator’s “entanglement with an Anglo-Catholic family.”
It was a challenge to read for me because the pace was slow, and I was often impatient with the Brideshead family’s treatment of the protagonist, as well as with the protagonist himself, often wishing for Charles to cut the ties to this privileged family and get on with his life.