Reported by Kristin
Our first Nevermore reader enjoyed The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann. Popular interest in the book has been sparked by the recent movie of the same name. (Available at the Main library: DVD LOS.) Explorer Percy Fawcett trekked into the Amazon in an attempt to find the lost city of El Dorado (“City of Gold”) in 1925. Our reader said that she particularly admired Fawcett’s incredible drive and purpose.
Yet another reader tried Brothers of the Sea by D.R. Sherman, an older novel set in the Seychelles Island, and another reader decided to jump on the bandwagon and read it in the coming week. The reader who just finished it said that it portrayed a beautiful relationship between a sweet boy and a nice father.
The same reader absolutely loved Emory’s Gift by W. Bruce Cameron, author of A Dog’s Purpose. After his mother dies, teen Charlie is lonely until a grizzly bear saves him from a mountain lion, then moves into the family barn. Being in Northern Idaho, everyone else wants to kill the grizzly, but Charlie seeks to protect his friend and protector.
Turning to science fiction, another reader enjoyed Red Planet Blues by Robert Sawyer. Within a frontier-like town set up in a bubble dome on Mars, human foibles are presented in a light breezy way. Alex Lomax is a private eye, the only one in New Klondike. Outside the bubble, a variety of treasure hunters are seeking extremely valuable Martian fossils. Our reader appreciated the word play, such as someone being described as “kempt and sheveled,” as opposed to “unkempt and disheveled.”
Next up was a book published in 1917, The Grim 13: Short Stories by Thirteen Authors of Standing, edited by Frederick Stuart Greene. These stories do tend to be on the grim side (as the title indicates,) but they are not tragic. Our reader’s favorite one was about a man in the jungle whose job is to raise the bridge out of the way when a boat needs to pass. Spookiness abound as the man questions what he hears.
Another classic, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, portrays outcasts and oddballs in a small Georgia town during the 1930’s. When John Singer, a deaf mute, loses his mute companion to a mental institution, he moves in with the Kelly family. Rife with racial and poverty issues, our reader compared this with To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
A new-to-Nevermore reader discussed her recent reading of Madam Secretary: A Memoir by Madeleine Albright. Published in 2003, this memoir takes the first female U.S. Secretary of State from her childhood in Czechoslovakia to her high ranking governmental position in Bill Clinton’s administration. Our reader was very impressed that Albright rose to that post after a relatively late start in government—her first federal job was when she was 39 and had three children.
Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan tackles a 1980 murder mystery when six college students looking for a thrill are drawn into a terrifying situation where someone ends up dead. Fast forward twenty years when new evidence comes to light. The chapters alternate between the old and the new; titles at the beginning of each section make it easy to differentiate the time periods. Our reader found this book very entertaining, saying that it will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Next up in fiction was Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Involving three women who run in the same circles because they have children in the same Australian preschool, the storyline makes it clear right up front that someone will end up dead, but winds around and around before naming the victim. Our reader said that if you have ever been a parent of an elementary school student, you will recognize the mommy politics in this tale. Now an HBO miniseries, the book may resonate with many a striving, overachieving parent.
In Jamestown: The Truth Revealed, William Kelso examines what happened to the lost 1607 Jamestown Settlement. Historians had long believed that the original site of the James Fort was covered by the river, as the land surrounding it was a low swampy place. After Jamestown burned, it was mostly forgotten. In 1994, archeologist Kelso began to dig in another location and found definitive evidence of the stockade, church, and perhaps most unsettling—cannibalism. The 13-year-old girl depicted on the cover is a representation from a found skull and leg bone which showed proof of being scraped out, and her flesh possibly eaten during “the starving period.” Our reader’s descriptions engendered much curiosity and discussion within the group.
Neil Shubin argues in The Universe Within: The Deep History of the Human Body that the very evolution of the universe is evidenced within the human body. From our atoms to our sleep cycles, Shubin connects the strands that show how the universe around us influences the way our bodies have adapted. Our reader said that she learned so many beautiful scientific things from this book.
Finally, The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn was enjoyed by another reader. In this novel, two time travelers are sent back in time from the near future to 1815 London. Their goal: recover an unpublished novel, and steal it. (Without influencing history, of course.) Our reader enjoyed the time travel aspect of the novel, and was amused by the fact that the travelers had not experienced “real food” in their own time period, but merely 3D replica composites made to nourish them. The real thing in 1815 was surely a shock to their digestive systems and their sensibilities.