When Breath Becomes Air, A Really Good Day, Battleworn, The Liar’s Club, Hillbilly Elegy- With few exceptions, the memoir genre has always struck me as self-serving and redemptive, especially when written by someone in the prime of life. Here are some of the exceptions that are worth your time....by Susan Gerhart
Several short books of note for your summer travels
Read in Ned | June 30, 2017
By Susan Gerhart
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss
Summer’s approaching; time to make those vacation or staycation plans including choosing which books will accompany you on your travels. Here are several short books of note if you don’t want to tackle War and Peace this summer.
Jeff VanderMeer (The Southern Reach Trilogy) again addresses life in a post-apocalyptic world in Borne. Rachel and her friend Wick are among the scavengers in a ruined city that is also plagued with drought. While picking through the fur of Mord, the monstrous bear created by a biotech company, Rachel finds a little green lump that somehow charms her. She takes him home and names him “Borne.” Rachel treats him as the child she never will have. Borne grows quickly and learns to talk. In a scant 300+ pages, VanderMeer speaks eloquently on the dangers of unregulated biotech research and the power of friendship and parental love.
At 175 pages, Stephen King’s Gwendy’s Button Box is a quick read. King and fellow horror author Richard Chizmar take us back to one of King’s favorite locales, Castle Rock, and present a “what-if scenario.” Gwendy is an overweight, awkward girl of twelve when she meets a man who gives her a button box. Not your grandmother’s button box, this one has eight buttons on the top and two drawers, one of which delivers the most delicious chocolates Gwendy has ever had; the other delivers an uncirculated silver dollar. The man tells her that the box will change her life, and it does for the better, but he also warns her about pressing the buttons. But, of course, she does, and very bad things happen. Coincidence?
My friend Hughes’s friend Lawrence Block has two new titles on the shelf, both quick reads. Keller’s Fedora continues the story of the retired hit man who is now living with his wife and children under a new name. Keller assumes he is out of the business until his former boss calls and offers him a challenging job: killing a wealthy man’s wife’s lover. The problem is that no one knows who it is or what he looks like. Keller can’t resist the challenge and buys a new hat for the occasion.
In Resume Speed, we meet a nameless man who’s riding the bus from North Dakota to Spokane. At a stop in a small town, he sees a “Help Wanted” sign in the window of a diner, applies for and gets the job. Along with the new job, he has a new name, a place to stay, and eventually a girlfriend. But he can’t remember what he did before fleeing North Dakota or how he got all the scratches on his hands. And, ultimately, he finds that he can’t run from who he is.
The covers on the Block books are worth a look for visual pleasure alone: pure pulp fiction.
Lucas Davenport is back in John Sandford’s Golden Prey. His new job as a Federal Marshal allows Lucas to take his pick of interesting cases, and this one involves a South American drug cartel and the ruthless thieves who rip it off. This easily readable police procedural takes Lucas and his fellow Marshals (Bob and Rae) across Texas in pursuit of the bad guys. The dialogue is priceless.
See you around the stacks.
Susan Gerhart is a volunteer at Nederland Community Library.