Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Nevermore: Deadly Company, Poor People, In Country, Behind Closed Doors and I Used to Believe I Had Forever

Reported by Ambrea

Nevermore kicked things off with a curiously grisly book, sharing In Deadly Company:  Fifty Murderous Men and Women by Don Lasseter.  In Deadly Company profiles “fifty of the most heinous killers in modern history,” as the book jacket attests, and offers detailed insight into their past, their crimes, and, ultimately, their fate.  Detailed and full of interesting information, our reader found she liked reading Lasseter’s book.  It was a dark, gruesome read; however, she said she didn’t think it was all bad.  There was a silver lining beneath all the terrible stories:  All the killers listed were ones who were captured and convicted for their crimes.

Next, Nevermore looked at Poor People by William T. Vollmann.  Like In Deadly Company, Poor People proved to be rather grim reading about poverty.  For his book, Vollmann traveled the world to interview the impoverished.  He offers glimpses into the poorest cities in the poorest countries in the world, taking his readers from the slums of Klong Toey to the streets of Petersburg, Russia, to the homeless camps in Miami, Florida.  More than offering a portrait of the lives of the homeless and the destitute, Poor People allows the impoverished to tell their stories as they have lived them.  Our reader said Vollman’s book was heart-breaking, enlightening, and intriguing all at once.  She also noted that Vollmann provides a better picture of poverty in the United States that the rest of the world.  Although he does a wonderful job of painting an image of the rest of the world, he simply has a sparser gathering of information about foreign nations versus the United States.

From poverty, Nevemore went back in time to the Vietnam War with In Country by Bobbie Ann Mason.  Summer, 1984:  Sam Hughes has struggled to reconcile her father’s picture with the vague history she knows of him for her entire life.  She knows he lived in Kentucky, she knows he joined the military, and she knows he went to Vietnam—and she knows he never came back.  Sam, desperate to know more about her father and the war that claimed him, sets off on an incredible personal journey that leads her to answer she never expected to find.  Our reader raved about In Country.  She called Mason’s novel a poignant picture of loss and war and memory—and she loved every minute of the story.  She compared Bobbie Ann Mason to Flannery O’Connor for her ability to work beautiful prose and, moreover, her ability to paint an intimate portrait of rural areas.

Next, Nevermore continued with a curiously humorous collection of stories, poems, essays, and plays by William Saroyan.  Saroyan—a poet, playwright, novelist, script writer, and short story writer.  A jack-of-all-trades in the writing world—compiled I Used to Believe I Had Forever, Now I’m Not So Sure in 1968, an eclectic collection that, according to our reader, feels “very down home, simple” but without compromising the integrity of the work.  Our reader said he enjoyed reading Saroyan’s work.  Although he hadn’t read more than a few articles in Saroyan’s collection, he said he’d enjoyed many of the short stories and he’d appreciated the author’s ability to communicate easily with his audience.  Overall, he gave I Used to Believe I Had Forever very high marks.

Last, Nevermore showed off a brand new psychological thriller:  Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris.  Grace Angel seems to have the perfect life:  a beautiful house, a wonderful husband, a fantastic marriage—except looks can be deceiving.  Jack isn’t the affable gentleman he claims to be, neither is he the doting husband nor the charming romantic who took her to Thailand for their honeymoon; in fact, Grace knows better.  And she knows she has to get out.  Behind Closed Doors was a chilling, breathlessly thrilling novel that had our reader sitting on the edge of her seat.  She noted she enjoyed Grace’s narrative, she enjoyed the pace of the novel and the straightforward direction of the plot; moreover, she said she was invested in the story shortly after she began.  While she admitted that some of the story was hard to stomach—“If you’re an animal lover,” she warned, “don’t read it.”—she wanted to find out what happened to Grace and, ultimately, she was satisfied with the way it ended.  She highly recommended it to her fellow readers.

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