Monday, June 18, 2018

Mailbox Monday: Summer Reads

What books came into your house last week? The Little Free Libraries in my neighborhood have been overflowing and I found three books that look like fun summer reads.



The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin



The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner



They Did It with Love by Kate Morgenroth



Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Book Beginning: Beginner's Luck by Malcolm Terence

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!



MY BOOK BEGINNING



Writers use many devices. I think my favorite is irony, in which the writer pretends to support something that is unsupportable.

-- Beginner's Luck: Dispatches from the Klamath Mountains by Malcolm Terence. In the 1960s, Terence helped found the Black Bear Ranch commune near the California-Oregon border, as he has now chronicled in his "rollicking new memoir."

PORTLAND EVENT: Malcolm Terence will be reading and signing Beginner's Luck at Powell's City of Books in downtown Portland on Monday, June 25, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.






Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING






Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Author Interview: Dionisia Morales


Dionisia Morales grew up in New York City and now lives and writes in Oregon. Her new collection of essays, Homing Instincts, just came out from OSU Press.



Dionisia recently talked with Rose City Reader about her new book, storytelling, and her ideas of home.

Did you set out to write 14 essays about how the concept of “home” plays out in daily life, or did you later find this common thread running through your writing? How did this collection come together?

About half of the essays in Homing Instincts were previously published in literary journals. One day, I stepped back and looked at them as a whole and found that even though they covered a wide range of topics—from beekeeping to rock climbing to people watching—there was a central theme running through them: How do we define “home”? It turns out that I have been trying to answer that question for years in my writing, approaching it from different angles. With those first essays complete, I set out to write new ones to knit together the idea that we often define home in different ways at different times in our lives. I’m from New York City but have chosen to settle in Oregon. My bi-coastal identity is a big part of the collection, but my hope is that the essays transcend a connection to any specific place and lead readers to consider questions of belonging more broadly.

Your essays seem very much drawn from your own experiences. How would you describe your inspiration?

I come from a family of storytellers. Noticing details and turning them into entertaining anecdotes was a big part of my growing up. I learned some of the best lessons about creative nonfiction writing craft from conversations with my family that started with a story but ended as a discussion about bigger issues.

Intriguing and odd things happen to all of us in the course of a day. When I have a story I want to tell in my writing, I stop and think about how it can go beyond my personal experience and connect to the lives and interests of other people. A good essay is more than just a journal entry; it needs to provide a view into the life of the writer but also open a door for readers to find themselves in the text. I get inspiration from all parts of my life—my kids and my hobbies, the things that make me laugh and the things that bore me. And when I sit down to write about them, I ask: “Now, what’s all this really about?”

Did you also learn something about yourself from writing these essays that you didn’t know before?

Through the process of writing Homing Instincts, I’ve learned that my definition of home is fluid; it has changed as I have changed. It used to bother me that my sense of home wasn’t more constant, as though that were a sign I was unrooted. But now I equate home with a feeling of belonging—which I find in different ways on different days—rather than a tie to a specific place.

Have you always known you wanted to be a writer?

I had a very active imagination as a kid and loved hearing and telling stories. I didn’t think writing was an option for me because, when I was around seven years old, the school librarian told my class that all good writers are good readers. I was a remedial reader all through elementary school and struggled with reading comprehension. The school put me in a special program several days a week to meet with a reading specialist. Reading and writing remained difficult for me through middle and high school, but I was lucky to have patient teachers. I wasn’t one of those kids who got lost in a book for pleasure; reading more often felt like a chore because it was so difficult. I feel fortunate that I can enjoy reading now but can get overwhelmed, like a need to make up for lost time. The notion that all writers are good readers stayed with me for a long time, and I didn’t know I could be a writer until I actually was one. I knew I would always continue with my family’s passion for spinning a good tale. It just took time to realize that I could also put those ideas on the page.

Do you have any events coming up to promote your book?

Next October, I am reading at the Magic Barrel, an annual literary event held in Corvallis, Oregon to benefit the Linn Benton Food Share. That month I will also participate in the Oregon Authors Day in Coos Bay. In November, I will be at the Wild Arts Book Fair in Portland.

What is the most valuable advice you’ve been given as an author?

As a nonfiction writer, if I am missing or am unsure about a piece of information, it can feel like a barrier to moving an essay forward. A valuable piece of advice given to me was to treat these instances as opportunities to ask questions about the information I don’t have. For example: Why is the information so important? Am I making it out to be more important than it is? What would I gain by having it? What would I lose? How far would I go to get it? Exploring a subject this way—peripherally instead of head on—can take an essay in pleasantly unusual directions. I think of it like coming to a high wall in the woods. If I can’t get over it, I might as well walk along with my hand on it to feel for an opening. Maybe I’ll find one or figure out a way around, but if that doesn’t happen, then the essay becomes something else, something unexpected, a different adventure than what I’d planned.

Is there a story behind your name? Having an unusual first name myself (Gilion with a hard G), I like to ask people where they got theirs.

Growing up, my father told us that the tradition in his family was for the paternal grandfather to name the grandchildren. Since my father’s father was no longer alive when my brothers and I were born, my father took over that role. As it turns out, there was no such tradition in his family; he just made that up. I think he did it, in part, to give us unusual names without letting my mother have a say in it. My name is Greek and my brothers’ names are Spanish, but we have no roots in those cultures. I’ve always liked that my name stands out. As a kid I sometimes wished I could find “Dionisia” or even just my nickname, “Dio,” on one of those mini license plates that you could hang on your bike. I knew I’d never find one, but I always checked, just in case.

What’s next? Are you working on your next book?

My next project is a memoir about my father. He reinvented himself in his twenties, not only changing his name but also creating a new origin story. I am reuniting with long-lost cousins to learn about our family and am getting glimpses into the complicated circumstances that led my father to want to be someone else and start over again.


THANK YOU DIONISIA!

HOMING INSTINCTS IS AVAILABLE FROM POWELL'S, AMAZON, AND OSU PRESS, OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOK SELLER TO ORDER IT!



Author photo by Ralf Dujmovits.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Teaser Tuesday: Queen of Spades by Michael Shou-Yung Sum



When she arrived, Chimsky was already waiting at their usual spot in the back, a small booth for two underneath a mounted moose head, a drink in hand. He was dressed in his dealer's garb.

-- Queen of Spades by Michael Shou-Yung Shum, published by Forest Avenue Press.

 I love Queen of Spades, the debut novel retelling Pushkin's short story of the same name, set in a Washington state casino in the 1980s.

The eye-catching cover is by Portland artist Gigi Little.



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Author Interview: Bette Lynch Husted

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Bette Lynch Husted is a poet and essayist who just wrote her first novel, All Coyote's Children, a compelling story set in northeastern Oregon.

PORTLAND EVENT: The book launch of for All Coyote's Children is this Monday, June 11, 2018, at 7:00 pm, at Broadway Books. Bette will be there to read from her book and sign copies.


Bette recently talked with Rose City Reader about her new novel, writing, and her own favorite books.

How did you come to write All Coyote’s Children?

In 2007, wondering if I could step from creative nonfiction and poetry into fiction, I took a Fishtrap workshop from Molly Gloss, and at the end of the week she said, “Bette, you have to write a novel. Get started, now.”

The story takes place in in northeastern Oregon, on and around the Umatilla Indian Reservation. What drew you to this location for the setting of your novel?

I spent some time researching local history and spinning my wheels, trying to find a way into the story I wanted to tell. In some ways this book was born at a June wedding a year after that workshop when I heard a Umatilla spiritual leader say, “We’re not just joining two people here today. We’re joining two families.” My son, wearing a ribbon shirt and moccasins, looked as happy as I’ve ever seen him; the bead and shell wedding veil he was lifting from his bride’s head was one he had made especially for her. His own heritage is mainly Celtic and Northern European; the bride, who is Umatilla-Cayuse and Apache, was a former student and my own longtime friend.

I knew this marriage wasn’t the answer to the question that has troubled me all my life—the story most Americans don’t talk about because, as one of the characters in All Coyote’s Children puts it, “it cancels all our mythologies. No wonder we can’t face it.” (How do any of us face the fact that the indigenous peoples and cultures of North America were dehumanized, seen as obstacles to be eliminated as others “tamed a continent” -- a phrase used by our president in his recent Naval Academy graduation address -- and then all but erased from national consciousness?) But it was a joyful day, and the spiritual leader’s words felt extraordinarily generous. That day, healing -- and a story about healing -- seemed possible.

What is your professional background? How did it lead you to writing books?

I studied literature because I wanted to be a writer. This was before M.F.A. programs, or at least any that I knew about. For years, teaching high school and then community college literature and writing took most of my time and energy. But it fed me as a writer, too. Teaching Oregon /Northwest Literature and Native American Literature courses, as well as an expanded-canon American Lit. class -- and learning to guide students deeper and deeper into their own writing -- were gifts.

You are known for your poetry and essays. What was it like to write your first novel?

As a young writer, I imagined being able to say, “I’m working on a novel.” A real writer could do that, I thought. Even after I believed I was a “real” writer, I wondered if I could write a sustained work of fiction. But discovering these characters, and watching them move through their lives, was as close as I have ever come to experiencing magic. I wrote much of the novel in the community room of our public library, a space I shared with and homeless people trying to stay warm or escape the eastern Oregon heat. Away from phone and dog and my own loved ones, I could enter the world of the novel and live there for a few hours. As I pulled into a parking space I always wondered, what will they do today? They always told me.

And I was “working on a novel.” It was a joy. I almost didn’t want it to end.

What is the significance of the title? Does it have a personal meaning for you besides its connection to the story?

In inland Northwest Native cultures, Creator chooses Coyote to prepare the world for human beings. He’s comic, too -- making the same kinds of goofy and appetite-driven mistakes we humans make. (“I was engrossed to the exclusion of thinking,” he says in Archie Phinney’s translation of the Nez Perce creation story, his excuse for forgetting to save the piece of the Swallowing Monster that will become the Nez Perce. Not to worry: they will spring up from the blood-soaked earth.) And Coyote is resilient. A survivor, in spite of himself. Ranchers have waged all-out war on coyotes for years, but a few years ago I read that there are now more coyotes in America today than there were in 1492.

“We’re all in this together,” characters in All Coyote’s Children realize. That’s what the title means to me. Coyote still has much to teach us if we pay attention.

Please tell us a little about the poem fragment from William Orr at the beginning of your book and why you chose it: “To see the world and say it true / Means starting with loss. / But that’s not what the heart wants, / That’s not where the saying stops.”

The novel begins after great loss, devastating losses for the Cayuse culture (half of their number dead less than 20 years after the arrival of the Whitmans, and decades of intentional cultural attack in government boarding schools) and on a smaller, more personal scale, a good non-Native family suddenly devastated by unexpected separation and grief. To be honest, we have to acknowledge loss. But the heart wants more, the heart wants not only survival but a healing story. “We are still here,” Native people say. “We will never fade.”

Who are your three (or four or five) favorite authors? Is your own writing influenced by the authors you read?

Molly Gloss has been a writing mentor, a guide as well as a friend. I loved her work long before I met her. I was fortunate to be in a writing group with her and with Ursula K. Le Guin, and I can hear both voices in my head as I revise. Leslie Silko’s Ceremony -- what need I say? It’s an amazing book.

What kind of books do you like to read? What are you reading now?

I read fiction, creative non-fiction (sometimes just non-fiction) and poetry. We have been inviting Northwest writers to the First Draft Writers’ Series [in Pendleton, Oregon] for five years, so every month I get to read writers I admire. And just now I’m reading Kevin Young’s Brown, Tracy K. Smith’s Wade in the Water, and Ursula’s Always Coming Home, as well as the manuscript of Molly’s forthcoming collection of short stories. (Lucky me!) And I recently finished Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing.

What is the most valuable advice you’ve been given as an author?

Last month I watched the trailer of Arwen Curry’s forthcoming documentary Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin and heard Ursula say, “To learn to make something well can take your whole life. And it’s worth it.”

One last gift, I thought. And the best writing advice any of us could ever receive.

Do you have any events coming up to promote your book?

After the launch at Broadway Books on June 11, I’ll be:

  • reading at Buttercreek Coffee and Mercantile in Echo, Oregon at 6:30 p.m. on June 19;
  • reading at First Draft, Pendleton Center for the Arts, 7 p.m. on June 21; 
  • reading at Josephy Center Brown Bag event in Joseph, Oregon at noon on June 26 
  • reading at the Clearwater Memorial Public Library in Orofino, Idaho on July 12 at 2 p.m.;
  • Orofino area book club on July 13;
  • reading in Baker City, Oregon on July 27 (time and place to be announced);
  • reading at Leach Botanical Garden for “Why There Are Words PDX” at 4 p.m. on August 19;
  • reading at Eastern Oregon University on October 16 (time and place to be announced); and
  • keynote speaker at Women Writing the West conference in Walla Walla, Washington at 7 p.m. on October 27.
What’s next? Are you working on your next book?

I hope to be working on another novel soon. And in the writing workshop group I mentioned, we each write and critique two poems each month, so I have quite a file to sort and revise, so I’m hoping for another poetry collection. I write a monthly column, “From Here to Anywhere,” for the East Oregonian, so I’m writing something nearly every day.


THANKS BETTE!

ALL COYOTE'S CHILDREN IS AVAILABLE AT BROADWAY BOOKS, POWELL'S, AND AMAZON, OR ASK YOUR LOCAL BOOK SELLER TO ORDER IT!


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Book Beginning: Pay to Play: Sexual Harassment American Style by Tootie Smith

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



Simply defined, Pay-to-Play is a phrase used for a variety of situations in which money is exchanged for services or for the privilege to engage in certain activities.

-- Pay to Play: Sexual Harassment American Style by Tootie Smith. A timely and lively book explaining what sexual harassment is and offering real life solutions to the current problem.




Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING




Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Teaser Tuesday: The Seasons of Doubt by Jeannie Burt



The door opened, a whip of wind rustled in. Traber stood in the door in all his startling height.

The Seasons of Doubt by Jeannie Burt. In the winter of 1873, Mary Harrington must save herself and her son after her husband abandons them in a sod house on the Nebraska prairie.

As you can tell just from this short teaser, Burt's writing crackles and she knows how to bustle the story right along.



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Mailbox Monday: Nonfiction Books

Two interesting and completely different nonfiction books came my way last week. What books came into your house?



Beginner's Luck: Dispatches from the Klamath Mountains by Malcolm Terence. In the 1960s, Terence helped found the Black Bear Ranch commune near the California-Oregon border, as he has now chronicled in his "rollicking new memoir."

PORTLAND EVENT: Malcolm Terence will be reading and signing Beginner's Luck at Powell's City of Books in downtown Portland on Monday, June 25, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.



Pay to Play: Sexual Harassment American Style by Tootie Smith. A timely book offering real life solutions to the problem of sexual harassment.




Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Book Beginning: All Coyote's Children by Bette Lynch Husted

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



The woman watching from the rock bluff hears the screen door bounce against the doorframe, loose on its hinges, and sees Annie emerge from the shelter of the arbor. She has cut her hair, reached around and sliced the braid off with a knife, by the look of it.

-- All Coyote's Children by Bette Lynch Husted, from OSU Press. What a powerful image!

When Annie Fallon's husband Jack, a professor of Native American history, disappears without a trace into the wilderness surrounding the family ranch in northeastern Oregon, Annie is left to pick up the pieces. She gets some help from Leona, a Umatilla-Cayuse neighbor with long but hidden ties to Jack's family.

PORTLAND EVENT: Bette Lynch Husted is reading and signing at Broadway Books on Monday, June 11, 2018 at 7:00 pm.




Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING



Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Teaser Tuesday: Second Honeymoon by Joanna Trollope


Ben was her youngest, her last. When the others went, she had felt a pang, but there had always been Ben, there had always been the untidy, demanding, gratifying, living proof that she was doing what she was meant to do, that she was doing something no one else could do.
-- Second Honeymoon by Joanna Trollope. I always enjoy Joanna Trollope's books and this long holiday weekend was the perfect time to read one.



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Mailbox Memorial Day Monday: Nonfiction by Philip Roth

Inspired by reading the memorials to Philip Roth, I got a Library of America edition of his collected nonfiction.



Why Write? by Philip Roth.

This omnibus edition contains several essays from the second edition of Reading Myself and Others (1985); the complete book, Shop Talk (2001); and 14 additional nonfiction pieces never collected before, including six never published before.

Roth is one of my favorite authors. I happened to be finishing The Professor of Desire the day he died. I'm working my way through his bibliography.


What new books came into your house last week?


Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.

Happy Memorial Day!




Saturday, May 26, 2018

YIKES! The 2017 European Reading Challenge Winner Finally Announced

I just realized I forgot to announce the winner of last year's European Reading Challenge! What a dolt!



THIS IS THE WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT POST FOR 2017

TO FIND THE 2017 REVIEWS, GO TO THIS PAGE

TO FIND THE 2017 WRAP UP POSTS, GO TO THIS PAGE

THE 2018 EUROPEAN READING CHALLENGE SIGN UP PAGE IS AT THIS PAGE 

2017 was the sixth year for this challenge, which involves reading books set in different European countries or written by authors from different European countries.

Big thanks to all the participants who joined me for the Grand Tour!

JET SETTER GRAND PRIZE WINNER

The 2017 Jet Setter prize goes to Audrey, who participated in the challenge through Goodreads! Audrey visited 30 different European countries and posted links to her Goodreads reviews. She posted her list of countries in a comment on the wrap up post page.

Honorary Mention (but no prizes) go to eight other participants who posted wrap up posts on the Wrap Up page because I appreciate these posts very much for making my job of figuring out the winner so much easier! For "Honorary Mention," the number of books counted is the number of unique countries.


My own wrap-up post is here. I read 13 books from different European countries, and four were translations, which is progress for me. But I didn't review any of the books I read because last year was crazy busy for me at my law practice.

Congratulations to all the readers who completed the challenge! There is still plenty of time to join us in 2018.


The gist: The idea is to read books by European authors or books set in European countries (no matter where the author comes from). The books can be anything – novels, short stories, memoirs, travel guides, cookbooks, biography, poetry, or any other genre. You can participate at different levels, but each book must be by a different author and set in a different country – it's supposed to be a tour.

Sign up HERE for the 2018 Challenge.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Book Beginning: Seasons of Doubt by Jeannie Burt

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



The stove almost warmed the room, though damp from the last storm still sat in it. Mary Harrington stirred a dull gravy as her five-year-old son slathered lard on a biscuit.

The Seasons of Doubt by Jeannie Burt. It's the winter of 1873, and when her husband abandons Mary and their son in a sod house on the Nebraska prairie, she doesn't know if he will ever return, or even if he is still alive.




Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING





Review: Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth

Philip Roth passed away this week at 85, having written over 30 books of fiction, autobiography, criticism, and essays over a 55-year span before announcing his retirement five years ago. He was one of my all-time favorite writers. Here is a re-post of my 2009 review of his first book, Goodbye, Columbus.



Philip Roth won the 1960 National Book Award for his first book, Goodbye, Columbus, a collection of five short stories and the title novella. He went on to create an incredible body of work – building on many themes introduced in Goodbye, Columbus – publishing 30 books to date with another on the way.

In the main novella, hero Neil Klugman is home in Newark after two years in the army. He has finished college, is working in the library, and lives with his Aunt Gladys and Uncle Max in the old neighborhood. When Neil falls in love with Brenda Patimkin, the prototypical Jewish American Princess whose family has moved to the suburbs up the hill, Roth begins the examination of American Jewish life that continues through many of his books.

The title is a reference to Ohio State University Seniors saying goodbye to college, goodbye to Columbus, Ohio, but it also signifies growing up and leaving youth behind. Neil and Brenda’s relationship demonstrates the intensity of first love, as well as the disillusionment and emotional tempering that result.

The five short stories that follow vary in force and effect. “The Conversion of the Jews” is a clever piece in which a young student starts a theological argument with his teacher along the lines of, “If God is omnipotent, can he make a rock too big for him to move?” It is fast and crisp and more than a little audacious.

How Jews, particularly secular Jews, assimilated into mid-century American culture is a common Roth theme. In “Defender of the Faith,” he looks at Jews in the military, drawing in part on his own experience in the army. This story leaves questions unanswered for later pondering: Just who defended the faith? Was it the hero, Sergeant Nathan Marx, who fought the Germans in WWII? Or the new recruit, Sheldon Grossman, who demands to follow his religious practices in boot camp? Is Grossman really looking out for the Jews in the unit, or just trying to gain preferential treatment? What about Marx? This would be an excellent pick for a lit class or book club.

“Epstein” is a morality tale about adultery on the brink of the sexual revolution. Louis Epstein learns the hard way that his generation does not get to share in the sexual frolics of the post-war, folk-singing, “socially conscious” next one.

In “You Can’t Tell a Man by the Song He Sings,” Roth touches on themes he comes back to over and over, including growing up in Newark, baseball, interactions among ethnic groups, and political ideology. The idea of a high school teacher falling into the net of anti-communist committee hearing is one that Roth later developed fully in I Married a Communist, one of his Zuckerman novels.

The last story, “Eli the Fanatic,” is the most powerful of the bunch. When a group of religious Jews sets up a Yeshiva for Holocaust orphans, the secular Jews in the “modern community” of Woodenton, New Jersey want the school closed down, fearing that it will upset the delicate balance they have achieved with their secular Protestant neighbors. Poor Eli Peck gets caught in the middle, trying to negotiate between his fellow townsfolk and the school. Peck’s eventual comprehension of the past suffering of the Yeshiva Jews and the shameful position of his cohorts leads to his emotional undoing. This is a story to mull over.

Roth won several more awards after this one, including another National for Sabbath Theater, the Pulitzer for American Pastoral, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Counterlife, among others. He was a true man of letters and a real American treasure.


This was my National Book Award pick for the Battle of the Prizes Challenge.

OTHER REVIEWS

Hotchpot Cafe

(If you would like to have your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Favorite Author: Philip Roth


Philip Roth was born in 1933 in New Jersey, the setting of many of his books. His personal life was often fodder for his fiction, particularly his books chronicling the lives of 20th-Century American Jews. He created an alter-ego in Nathan Zucherman, the protagonist in nine novels. Another trilogy features college professor David Kepesh as the main character. Roth passed away in May 2018 at the age of 85.

Roth is a personal favorite. I intend to read all of his books. Those I have read so far are in red. Those currently on my TBR shelf are in blue.

Goodbye, Columbus: And Five Other Short Stories (1959) (National Book Award winner; reviewed here)

Letting Go (1962)

When She Was Good (1967)

Portnoy's Complaint (1969) (Modern Library’s Top 100 list)

Our Gang (1971)

The Breast (1972) (Kepesh)

The Great American Novel (1973)

My Life As a Man (1974) (proto-Zuckerman)

Reading Myself and Others (1976)

The Professor of Desire (1977) (Kepesh)

The Ghost Writer (1979) (Zuckerman)

Zuckerman Unbound (1981) (Zuckerman)

The Anatomy Lesson (1983) (Zuckerman)

The Prague Orgy (1985) (Zuckerman)

The Counterlife (1986) (Zuckerman) (National Book Critics Circle Award winner)

The Facts: A Novelist's Autobiography (1988) (nonfiction)

Deception (1990)

Patrimony: A True Story (1991) (nonfiction)

Operation Shylock: A Confession (1993)

Sabbath's Theater (1995) (National Book Award winner)

American Pastoral (1997) (Zuckerman) (Pulitzer Prize winner)

I Married a Communist (1998) (Zuckerman)

The Human Stain (2000) (Zuckerman) (reviewed here)

Shop Talk (2001) (nonfiction)

The Dying Animal (2001) (Kepesh)

The Plot Against America (2004) (reviewed here)

Everyman (2006)

Exit Ghost (2007) (Zuckerman)

Indignation (2008)

The Humbling (2009)

Nemesis (2010)


NOTES
Last updated May 23, 2018.


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Teaser Tuesday: Homing Instincts by Dionisia Morales



When my niece, Maya, called for the third time in three weeks, she wanted to know what the hell was going on over there, and by over there she meant Oregon, where, I said, I was up a tree. And by up a tree I didn’t mean in some kind of trouble with money or my marriage, which she might have understood, but actually on a ladder in a tree, a concept harder for her to wrap her head around.

-- from "Stocking Up," in Homing Instincts by Dionisia Morales, a collection of 14 essays exploring Morales's concepts of home and belonging, like this one about her annual ritual of canning fruit.



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Mailbox Monday: A Tom Wolfe Trifecta

Reading all the memorials to Tom Wolfe last week inspired me to pick up three of his nonfiction books:


From Bauhaus to Our House, about architecture.

The Kingdom of Speech, about linguistics and the origins of human speech.

The Painted Word, about art criticism.

What books came into your house last week?



Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Book Beginning: Life Expectancy: Poetry by Kirsten Rian

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



I'm up there talking about war, the kind with Kalashnikovs and scuds.

-- from "Embedment," the first poem in Life Expectancy: Poetry by Kirsten Rian. Rian's poetry looks at how life goes as it does -- usually in unexpected directions.




Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING





Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Review: The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe, RIP

Tom Wolfe, one of the greats, passed away this week at age 88. I absolutely loved Bonfire of the Vanities, his first novel and one of the best American novels. His essays Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers are the most trenchant social commentary I have ever read.

His nonfiction book, The Right Stuff, was not one of my favorites, but it is a classic. Here's a re-post of my 2008 review.



The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe is my favorite book about astronauts. Of course, it is the only book about astronauts that I will ever read, so that isn't the strongest praise. But it is perfect for a general reader like me looking for an entertaining history of America's early space program. Wolfe definitely keeps the tale interesting. He focuses on the personal, rather than the technical and administrative, aspects of the Mercury space program and the first seven astronauts involved. He follows the seven through their early careers, mostly as test pilots, through each of their turns in a Mercury capsule.

The most remarkable part of the story is the connection Wolfe makes between fighter jet pilots and astronauts. Having grown up in the NASA age, I did not know that the Air Force had a competing rocket program (a program that managed to send pilots several miles into space and then have them actually land the aircraft back on earth) before it was scuttled in favor of NASA's moon missions.

The only drawback of the book is Wolfe's Gonzo journalism style, which much have been refreshing and bold back in 1979. Now, the hipper-than-thou tone is a little tired and can get exasperating.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Teaser Tuesday: The River by Starlight by Ellen Notbohm



Without looking at Adam or their daughter, she hauls herself up the bedpost, Her feet hit the floor like stumps.

The River by Starlight by Ellen Notbohm. This historic novel, set in Montana in the early 1900s, tells the story of a homesteading couple struggling with the wife's recurring postpartum depression. Notbohm was inspired by research into her own family history and by "what we owe all women who bravely undertake the risks and unknowns of motherhood."



Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mailbox Monday: New Books

Two new novels arrived in my mailbox this week. Their stories intersect in the history of America's western expansion -- and with disappearing husbands leaving wives behind to save the family.



All Coyote's Children by Bette Lynch Husted. Annie Fallon must pick up the pieces after her husband Jack, a professor of Native American history, disappears without a trace into the wilderness surrounding the family ranch in northeastern Oregon. Annie is befriended by Leona, a Umatilla-Cayuse neighbor with long but hidden ties to Jack's family.



The Seasons of Doubt by Jeannie Burt. This historical novel is set in 1873 Nebraska and tells the story of a homesteading woman and her young son, abandoned by her husband to freeze and starve in their prairie sod house unless she can save them. It looks like quite an adventure.


What books came into your house last week?


Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday, a weekly "show & tell" blog event where participants share the books they acquired the week before. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts and read more about Books that Caught our Eye.

Mailbox Monday is graciously hosted by Leslie of Under My Apple Tree, Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, and Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Book Beginning: Homing Instincts by Dionisia Morales

BOOK BEGINNINGS ON FRIDAYS

THANKS FOR JOINING ME ON FRIDAYS FOR BOOK BEGINNING FUN!

MY BOOK BEGINNING



At the Hotel Maestral, Zlatko leaned forward in his chair, took a sip of wine, and described in broken German the idiosyncrasies of his family history: his grandmother was Austrian, his mother was Italian, his children are Croatian, "And me?" he said, as if delivering the punch line to a joke, "I used to be Yugoslavian."

-- from the Prologue: You Are Here, in Homing Instincts by Dionisia Morales, a collection of essays on the idea of home and how it plays out in daily life.

The humor in Zlatko's story is that his family lived in the same town for generations, only the national sovereignty changed.



Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name.

EARLY BIRDS & SLOWPOKES: This weekly post goes up Thursday evening for those who like to get their posts up and linked early on. But feel free to add a link all week.

FACEBOOK: Rose City Reader has a Facebook page where I post about new and favorite books, book events, and other bookish tidbits, as well as link to blog posts. I'd love a "Like" on the page! You can go to the page here to Like it. I am happy to Like you back if you have a blog or professional Facebook page, so please leave a comment with a link and I will find you.

TWITTER, ETC: If you are on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or other social media, please post using the hash tag #BookBeginnings. I try to follow all Book  Beginnings participants on whatever interweb sites you are on, so please let me know if I have missed any and I will catch up.

TIE IN: The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice.

YOUR BOOK BEGINNING




Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Teaser Tuesday: Ghost Writer: A Story About Telling a Holocaust Story by Beth Benedix




The more Joseph story unraveled, the more pronounced the layers of his intuition became. I had to keep reminding myself that he was fifteen (fifteen!) When he made this series of right choices between life and death.

-- Ghost Writer: A Story About Telling a Holocaust Story by Beth Benedix. Benedix ghost wrote a memoir for Holocaust survivor Joe Koenig. At his urging, she then wrote this book about her own experience of taking on the responsibility of listening to his story and giving it its fullest form.

I was drawn to this book because I see a parallel between Benedix's experience ghost writing a Holocaust memoir and my work as a lawyer representing adult victims of childhood sexual abuse. My clients trust me to tell the stories of their childhood trauma the way Koenig trusted Benedix. Bringing their stories to light -- bearing their testimony in a way -- is the best part of my job to me.


Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event.

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