Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Nevermore: Pecan Man, Yellow Death, Clear Springs, Jo Nesbo, and more!

This week’s Nevermore Book Club started off with a selection of fiction.  Two members recommended The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck as being a good story set in the South.  One said it reminded her of Kathryn Stockett’s The Help.  The story begins in Florida in 1976, when widow Ora hires a homeless black man named Eddie to do odd jobs around the house, mostly yardwork.  The man is shunned by many, and referred to as “Pecan Man.”  When the son of the police chief is stabbed to death, the Pecan Man is charged with the murder.  Twenty five years later, an elderly Ora decides to look for the truth. This is a first novel by the author.

Next up was a novel by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo, best known for his mysteries starring Harry Hole.  Blood on Snow  is a standalone novel about a hitman who is quite your usual cold killer.  Olav is indeed very good at what he does, but he is also a thoughtful, sensitive man.  Our reader thought it was an excellent book.

The Children Act by Mann Booker Prize winner Ian McEwan takes its title from a British law concerning child welfare.  The lead character is a judge who is tasked with a case concerning a 17 year old boy whose parents’ religious beliefs preclude a medical procedure which might save their son’s life. Meanwhile, the judge’s personal life is also coming unraveled. The Nevermore member had just started the book so no verdict has been reached on this one.

In non-fiction books, the highest praise went to Shocktrauma by Jon Franklin and Alan Doelp describes the origin of the trauma systems still in use today in the U.S.  The authors explain the “Golden Hour,” in which trauma victims are more likely to survive with less lasting damage than if treatment is delayed.  The club had a lively discussion about area trauma centers and how survival rates have gone up because patients don’t have to go to Knoxville or Charlottesville for treatment. Even though the book came out in 1980, our readers felt it was still a good overview of the history and the thinking behind modern trauma centers.

Another medical based book also came in for praise.  The Secret of the Yellow Death by Suzanne Jurmain is a YA book which tells how Walter Reed and a team of doctors unlocked the secret behind the deadly disease known as Yellow Fever.  Our reader said the book was quite the eye-opener for her, and dispelled a number of misconceptions she’d held about both Walter Reed and Yellow Fever.
On the lighter side, the same reader recommended David Sedaris book of essays, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. Sedaris is known for his sharp wit and ability to weave a story both hilarious and poignant at the same time.  The book contains twenty two essays covering Sedaris’ life, with about half devoted to childhood.

Bobbi Ann Mason is best known for her novels such as In Country, but she proves herself just as fine a writer in nonfiction with her memoir Clear Springs.  She presents a vivid picture of growing up in on a farm in Kentucky in the 1940s, along with the trials and anxieties of a small town girl who heads off to the city. 

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