Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Nevermore: Fairstein, Florence, Food, Dark Money, Northern Reflections, and The Namesake

Reported by Ambrea



Starting out this week, Nevermore looked at a heart-pounding thriller by Linda Fairstein.  In Killer Look, District Attorney Alex Cooper finds herself diving deep into the glitzy, glamorous world of fashion to solve the murder of Wolf Savage, a prominent businessman and designer.  But Alex isn’t facing just a dangerous killer, she’s struggling to retain her endangered position at the DA’s office and control her PTSD.  Along with detective Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace, Alex will have to delve deep into the Garment District if she hopes to solve a murder—and stop a killer before he strikes again.  Our reader said she really enjoyed reading Fairstein’s novel.  Although she hadn’t quite finished, she said “it’s good [so far]” and she couldn’t wait to dive into more books by Fairstein.


Next, Nevermore read a collection of what has been dubbed “wild, wacky, and nostalgic short stories” by Jerry Harju.  In Northern Reflections, Harju offers stories from his childhood in upper Michigan during the 1940s—everything from wild childhood antics, like playing chicken with a train, to his troublesome adolescence when meeting girls during the frigid Michigan winter proved difficult.  Our readers said they both enjoyed reading Northern Reflections.  Full of “colorful, colloquial stories,” it had a universal appeal which our readers greatly appreciated.  One reader said Harju’s stories translated very well.  Although the author grew up in Michigan, his experiences could have happened anywhere in the country, such as the Deep South of Mississippi or Arkansas—or even the Appalachian Mountains of northeast Tennessee.


Nevermore returned with an old favorite this week:  Dark Money by Jane Mayer.  A book that confronts the “profound economic inequality” of modern America, Dark Money has circulated through the ranks several times as readers find their interest piqued by Mayer’s work.   As usual, our readers found Mayer’s book fascinating and “absolutely frightening” with its depictions of political corruptions and economic turmoil; however, one reader picked out a local story that she thought hit close to home.  In Mayer’s Dark Money, Saltville, Virginia, takes the stage in an expos√© on the Olin Chemical Company which dumped millions of pounds of mercury into local water sources from 1951 to 1970.  Interesting but simultaneously startling, Dark Money is still a big hit for our readers.


Nevermore also shared an interesting book this week about Florence Foster Jenkins by Nicholas Martin and Jasper Rees.  Dubbed the “world’s worst singer,” Florence Foster Jenkins is one of America’s best-known sopranos and she’s famous for her unique recordings—and her sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall.  Despite her limitations as a singer, Florence made a name for herself as both a talented young pianist and a patron of the musical arts.  She set up a prestigious music club, staged multiple operas, and embraced the musical scene of New York City, inspiring and assisting many young singers as they started upon the stage.  Florence Foster Jenkins proved to be an amusing and fascinating biography on the famous madame; however, the real treat was an actual recording of Mrs. Jenkins’ singing brought in by one reader.  Not only did our members have the opportunity to hear about her unusual exploits, they had the chance to hear her singing and “enjoy” her musical endeavors.


Next, Nevermore took a look at The Chain:  Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food by Ted Genoways.  The Chain is a powerful, poignant work of investigative journalism that explores the growth of the American meatpacking industry—and its dire repercussions.  Genoways interviewed dozens of individuals for his book, including union leaders, industry line workers, hog farmers, migrant workers, politicians and activists, which lends his work an wonderful level of credibility.  Our reader said she was absolutely fascinated by The Chain, calling it a brilliant book that follows in the vein of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and, like that classic, it’s at once captivating and horrifying.


Last, Nevermore shared The Namesake by Jhumpa Nahiri, which follows the Ganguli family from their roots in Calcutta to their journey to the United States.  Gogol Ganguli is named for a Russian writer by his Indian parents, a collision of heritage and modern, American ideals, and he struggles to balance his American life and his parents’ heritage.  A stunning novel about identity and tradition and reconciling the two, The Namesake is simultaneously fascinating, thrilling, tragic, and beautiful.  Our reader was particularly pleased with Nahiri’s novel.  She said it was a “beautifully written book,” and she recommended it highly to her fellow readers.

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