Friday, September 4, 2015

Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You - Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights; Salman Rushdie

I haven't seen as much buzz about this book as I anticipated, but I do hope to try it soon.

Random House - September 8, 2015

From Salman Rushdie, one of the great writers of our time, comes a spellbinding work of fiction that blends history, mythology, and a timeless love story. A lush, richly layered novel in which our world has been plunged into an age of unreason, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is a breathtaking achievement and an enduring testament to the power of storytelling.

In the near future, after a storm strikes New York City, the strangenesses begin. A down-to-earth gardener finds that his feet no longer touch the ground. A graphic novelist awakens in his bedroom to a mysterious entity that resembles his own sub–Stan Lee creation. Abandoned at the mayor’s office, a baby identifies corruption with her mere presence, marking the guilty with blemishes and boils. A seductive gold digger is soon tapped to combat forces beyond imagining.

Unbeknownst to them, they are all descended from the whimsical, capricious, wanton creatures known as the jinn, who live in a world separated from ours by a veil. Centuries ago, Dunia, a princess of the jinn, fell in love with a mortal man of reason. Together they produced an astonishing number of children, unaware of their fantastical powers, who spread across generations in the human world.

Once the line between worlds is breached on a grand scale, Dunia’s children and others will play a role in an epic war between light and dark spanning a thousand and one nights—or two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights. It is a time of enormous upheaval, in which beliefs are challenged, words act like poison, silence is a disease, and a noise may contain a hidden curse.

Inspired by the traditional “wonder tales” of the East, Salman Rushdie’s novel is a masterpiece about the age-old conflicts that remain in today’s world. Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is satirical and bawdy, full of cunning and folly, rivalries and betrayals, kismet and karma, rapture and redemption.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Walk in the Woods -- the Movie

Loosely based on Bill Bryson's 1998 memoir,  A Walk in the Woods will appeal more to seniors, much like, Wild appealed more to 30-something crowd.
Bryson (Robert Redford) has been married to his wife, Catherine (Emma Thompson) for 40 years. The couple has a beautiful family and home in New Hampshire. After the couple attends the funeral for someone their age, Bryson goes for a walk near his property and notices a marker sign for the Appalachian Trail. He does some internet research, reassesses his life,  and decides to hike the 2,100 mile trail which runs from Maine to Georgia against his wife's wishes.  He solicits friends including some he hasn't seen in decades and, it's Steve Katz (Nick Nolte) who wants to join him after hearing about Bryson's intentions from someone else, 
Bryson and Katz couldn't be more different. Bryson is fit and disciplined, while Katz a former alcoholic is very overweight, has had a knee replacement  and is still rough and gruff, a man on the prowl. What follows is quite entertaining. There are lots of laughs to be found, some a bit over the top, but the best part of the movie was the quieter moments and conversations between the two 70-something men when they reflect on life and their younger days.
The scenery is gorgeous breathtaking along the way.  There were several people they meet while hiking, at a motel they stop to shower and sleep, and the laundromat where they freshen their clothes that both adds and detracts from the movie overall. This is one of those movies that we enjoyed more because of who the stars are and for what Redford and Nolte have accomplished over their careers as actors.  
Bryson and Katz were in their 40's when they hiked the Appalachian Trail, the fact that these (2) guys were crazy enough to think they could hike 2,100 miles in their 70's, is enough to give you an idea what their experience and the obstacles they faced might have been like.
The movie was less than two hours and was pretty entertaining. We were happy we saw it.
6/10 stars 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Last September; Nina de Gramont

The Last September; Nina de Gramont
Algonquin - 2015

 Opening Paragraph 

"Because I'm a student of literature, I will start my story on the day Charlie died.  In other words, I'm beginning in the middle, In medias res, that's the Latin term, and though my specialty is American Renaissance poetry, I did have to study the classics, Homer, Dante, Milton.  They knew about the middle, how all of life revolves around a single moment in time.  Everything that comes afterward springs from that moment.  In my case, that moment -- that middle -- is my husband's murder."

In The Last September  the reader learns immediately that Charlie Moss has been murdered, but who did it and why? Although we find out in the end, the story itself is no ordinary murder mystery -- it is so much more.

Brett Mercier meets Charlie Moss in college in Colorado through his brother, Eli who was Brett's friend.  Eli warned her that his brother might break her heart as he was a bit of a dreamer and liked to play the field, but for Brett it was love at first sight. After and intense start to the relationship, Charlie disappears, but eventually the two reconnect, marry and have a daughter together.  Life for Brett is not what she imagined. With a passion for Emily Dickinson, she works on her dissertation. The couple barely has enough money for necessities and they live in a run-down Cape Cod beach cottage belonging to Charlie's dad. Charlie does not have the same passion as Brett or career drive.

Eli, once bound for Harvard, was diagnosed with schizophrenia during college, and has been institutionalized off and off, and he bounces in and out of their lives as a result.  On the day Charlie's bludgeoned body is found, Eli is at the beach cottage, he's hysterical and has stopped taking his meds.  

The story delves deep into the backgrounds of the characters, who are richly developed and deeply flawed. Some felt like people I knew at an earlier time in my life.  A literary mystery of sorts, the story offers beautiful references and quotes of Emily Dickinson, the breathtaking setting of Cape Cad in fall, the college town of Amherst, Ma, and the home of Emily Dickinson.

It's a story that hooked me early on and never let go. The Last September is a beautifully written story of life, love, family, conflict and betrayal.  This one is definitely worth reading.

4.5/5 stars

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - My Name is Russell Fink; Michael Snyder

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where I share the first paragraph sometimes two from a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon. I purchased this eBook on Amazon a while ago and think it sounds good in a quirky kind of way.

My Name is Russell Fink; Michael Snyder
Zondervan Press - 2008

Part One


"My conscience must be out of order.

Otherwise I'd feel at least a tinge of guilt as I consider making this call.  Only two reasons exist for dialing this number: first, to inform Max Hengle III that I'm about to land a big sale, and to say this is rare would be an understatement.  It's happened exactly twice. And neither transaction was the result of any Herculean effort on my part, more like fortuitous timing or dumb luck.  But this did not prevent me from taking full credit.  Sales is a tough business.

The second reason for dialing this number -- the egregiously more common reason--is to call in sick.  One could argue hypochondria, but I prefer preventative maintenance.  Still, I contend that over the life of my career, these measures will have made me a happier and more productive employee.  And who wouldn't want a whole stable full of happy and productive employees?"

What do you think -- keep reading or pass?  

(Feel free to join in this week by posting your intro below?