Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Nevermore: Sailing Alone, Coldest Winter, Roger Coleman, London Rain

Reported by Ambrea

Nevermore started off with a pertinent poem by Billy Collins:
“The name of the author is the first to go
Followed obediently by the title, the plot,
The heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
Which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,

As if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
Decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
To a little fishing village where there are no phones.”

Our reader checked out Sailing Alone Around the Room, telling her fellow Nevermore members that she thought it was pertinent and she “thought about us [Nevermore].”  She raved about Collins’ collected poems and highly recommended them, saying they were fun and interesting and astonishingly relatable.

Next, Nevermore shared The Coldest Winter:  America and the Korean War by David Halberstam, which delves deep into the Korean War and takes a long, hard look at the political decisions—and miscalculations—that prolonged the conflict.  Our reader noted that Halberstams’ book was incredibly heavy, literally and figuratively.  A monumental book in both its size and scope, The Coldest Winter was an interesting and comprehensive volume on the Korean conflict.  Although our reader was only partially finished with the book, she said it was filled with “a lot of people screwing up and screwing people over.”  Her review of Halberstams’ book lead to a great discussion of the start and the events that defined the Korean War.

Continuing in the vein of nonfiction, Nevermore looked at May God Have Mercy:  A True Story of Crime and Punishment by John C. Tucker.  In 1982, in Buchanan County, Virginia, a young coal miner named Roger Coleman was sentenced to death for the murder of his sister-in-law.  Despite the best efforts of Kitty Behan, a brilliant young lawyer who devoted two years of her life to gathering evidence in Coleman’s defense, Coleman was sentenced to death ten years later—and the shocking truth of the crime revealed.  Our reader said May God Have Mercy was a fascinating book with local ties.  It was both riveting and informative, offering a glimpse into the judicial process and how the handling of evidence has changed over the years.

Next, Nevermore shared London Rain, a Josephine Tey mystery by Nicola Upson.  Josephine Tey is an intrepid writer and an amateur sleuth, who often manages to step into mysteries that are nearly as dramatic as the plays she writes.  This time, Josephine is wrapped up in the murder of Anthony Beresford, Britain’s most venerable newsman, as the coronation of King George looms on the horizon—and war bubbles just beneath the surface of Europe.  Our reader said she didn’t care much for Upson’s novel.  Although she read the entire book, she admitted she only did so with the vain hope it would get better.  Overall, London Rain, while captivating for its portrait of pre-World War II London, was disappointing. (Note: for the uninitiated, the real Josephine Tey was a well-known Golden Age mystery author, best known for A Daughter of Time.)

Last, Nevermore took a look at Evicted:  Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond.   Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, Evicted is a heart-wrenching expose on the state of poverty in the United States.  For much of the book, Desmond follows the path of eight families in Milwaukee as they struggle to keep a roof over their heads and fight to stay afloat amidst financial devastation.  Our reader said Evicted was a moving depiction of poverty and loss, sadness and tragedy interspersed with real scenes of hope within the home.  “It is overwhelming…[to see] the way their resources were so limited, so stretched,” she said.  She found it to be enlightening, an eye-opening experience, and she highly recommended it to her fellow Nevermore members.


  1. Matthew Desmond won the Pulitzer Prize for General NON-fiction.

  2. Thanks for catching that!! We stand corrected! I updated the post.