Man Booker Shortlist

The shortlist for the prestigious Man Booker is out, but I’ve read only one – Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being.  Of course I plan to read Jhumpa Lahiri’s Lowland, hoping it will be as amazing as her others, but its publication date for my area is late September.  The other four that make up the list of 6:

  • The Testament of Mary by Colm Tobin
  • Harvest by Jim Crace
  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
  • We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

Have you read any on the list?

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It’s St. Patrick’s Day – Did You Find Your Pot of Gold?

This is the season in Hawaii when a rain cloud will mysteriously appear, sometimes with sunshine at the same time.  We call the sprinkles “blessings,” and look for the rainbow…

Our leprechauns are called menehunes, little men with magical powers, and like everywhere else, we have a St. Patrick’s Day parade.

An Irish novel to go with the beer?    Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn reads like an Irish Our Town with a slow inevitable pace that follows Eilis Lacey, a young Irish immigrant.

No James Joyce for me, but anything by Oscar Wilde will do. You can find some of his work online:  Oscar Wilde Literature Page

For more ideas on Irish reads, check out:    Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

and the luck o’ the Irish to you today

In Honor of Edgar Allan Poe – Father of the Short Story

Today is Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday; the “father of the short story” would be 202.

The New York Times book review section uses the insights of three famous authors – Francine Prose, Joyce Carol Oates, and Roxanna Robinson – all who have written both novels and short stories – to capture “Small Moments,”  their reflections on the short story form, with lots of ideas for short stories to read in …

  • Colm Toibin’s The Empty Family
  • Charles Baxter’s Gryphon
  • Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision

Toibin’s collection sounds a little depressing, with tales of melancholy and regret; likewise, Baxter’s disturbed Midwesterners;  Pearlman’s ” perceptive and funny” stories sound right for me.  

“Pearlman writes about predicaments – odd, wry, funny, and painful – of being human.”

My library only has her second collection – Love Among the Greatsguess I’ll start there.

For the New York Times Book Review article: http://www.nytimes.com/pages/books/review/

and for more on Edgar Allan Poe:  http://knowingpoe.thinkport.org/default_flash.asp

Brooklyn: A Novel

Do you believe that you control your destiny or are controlled by it?   No decisions are made in a vacuum, but how often do you just ride the tide of others’ opinions?

Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn reads like an Irish Our Town with a slow inevitable pace that follows Eilis Lacey, a young Irish immigrant.   Not entirely dissatisfied with her life at home, Eilis gives in to her family’s plans to get her a better future in America.

After a slow and hard crossing to the new world, Eilis survives the inevitable homesickness and alienation,  and with the help of the Irish parish priest and the Irish landlady – both with ties to the homeland – starts a new life.    As expected, with hard work and perseverance, she finds opportunity, work, a man, and her place in the new world – maybe her future.   Sudden tragedy calls her back to Ireland, and Eilis lives in limbo between possibilities – the displaced soul.

Tóibín is an Irishman, so you can expect rich language  and angst – with the themes of obedience and subversion to religion – and only a little sacrilege.    He clearly defines the struggle of the immigrant family and old Irish society.

When the story line seems quietly flowing and a little boring, Tóibín inserts unexpected emotions.   Suddenly, you realize you really did not know the characters at all.   Brooklyn starts out as a quiet easy read, and slowly involves you.  You will not be able to resist wanting to give Eilis a kick and wishing she would at least try to be a little more proactive.