Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nevermore: Fiction

Canada is the new novel from Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Ford, best known for his Bascombe trilogy.   Dell Parsons is still a teenager when his parents are caught robbing a bank.  His twin sister Berner runs away, while Dell hides out in a Canadian hunting lodge with an American who is supposed to be a family friend but who has a violent streak. The story is told in retrospect by an adult Dell.  Our reviewer was unimpressed by the mushy story line and unsympathetic characters.
On the other hand, The Good Father by Noah Hawley won high marks.  Our reviewer called it beautifully written and thought provoking. Dr. Paul Allen is a successful Manhattan rheumatologist with a happy marriage and twin sons.  He’s made a career out of caring for difficult patients and solving their problems.  Life is good.  Then a presidential candidate is assassinated, and Dr. Allen finds the Secret Service at his door.  They tell him that his son Daniel, a product of his first marriage, is the murderer. Unable to believe it, Dr. Allen sets out to try to piece together what really happened.
Two of Larry McMurtry’s early books came up for discussion.  Horseman, Pass By was considered quite a revelation when it was first published in 1961.  It was an unsentimental look at the clash between the old Western values and a changing landscape.  The book was the basis for the classic movie, “Hud.”  All My Friends Are Going to be Strangers  It’s the story of a young writer who leaves Texas and heads for California, chasing a dream of fame and fortune.  One reviewer found it delightful, evoking the late 60s era and featuring unforgettable characters (some of whom turn up in other McMurtry books).  A second reader gave up on it in short order, proving once again that not every book is for every person. came out in 1972, but included some characters from a previous novel.
John Grisham’s Calico Joe has been mentioned in several meetings.  Most of our reviewers have been surprised at how much they enjoyed this atypical Grisham novel.  Instead of a courtroom drama, this novel is rooted in baseball.  Joe Castle is a young player from Arkansas who bursts into the big leagues as an amazing batter in a sports version of a Cinderella story. The crowds adore him, dubbing him Calico Joe after his hometown.  Then he faces pitcher Warren Tracey, an angry, hard-drinking man who throws one pitch that changes both their lives.  The story is told by Tracey’s son Paul, who was 11 years old at the time of the pitch; thirty years later, Paul is seeking some sort of closure to the story.  Grisham’s novel echoes the real story of Carl Mays and Roy Chapman.  This isn’t a book just for baseball fans; it’s for anyone who enjoys a good story.

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