Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mary E. Kingsley Visits Nevermore

In addition to the delectable doughnuts from Blackbird Bakery, the Nevermore Book Club was treated to an author visit!  Mary Kingsley, author of Angel, discussed how growing up in Kingsport informed her coming of age novel.  The setting is 1973, in a small southern Appalachian town, where thirteen year old Angel Bishop is beginning to ask questions.  Her father left when she was a baby for reasons no one will explain; well, no one but Aunt Patsy, who has been in a mental home for years and who doesn’t seem to make a great deal of sense.  When her father calls and says he’ll be home for Thanksgiving, everything gets turned upside down.  Jud had read and recommended the book at a previous meeting.  He felt it was well-written, evocative, and a good story well told.
Ms. Kingsley read an excerpt from the book and answered a number of questions about her experience.  The theme of “insiders verses outsiders” runs through the book along with questions about family and how the past can influence one's perceptions.  Many readers found reading the book to be a nostalgic experience, with beloved places and people woven into the narrative.  Those who didn’t grow up in the area still found much to identify with, both in culture and characters.  Ms. Kingsley wrote a blog on this topic:  Meeting Readers.
 To learn more about Ms. Kingsley and to even hear some audio clips from the book, visit her website
 The library had hosted a coffee with writer Sharon Randall the day prior to Book Club, and Ms. Randall had much to say in praise of libraries and reading.  Ms. Randall grew up in North Carolina so once again there was a shared sense of place, peoples, and culture.  She is best known for her syndicated column which runs in the Bristol Herald Courier on Sundays.  Birdbaths and Paper Cranes is a collection of her essays.
The topic of banned books came up, since a number of the most frequently challenged books are for children or young adults.  The 2010 list includes Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series, Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” trilogy, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexi and Brave New World  by Aldous Huxley.
Among the books being read by club members were two frequently mentioned titles, The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel and Sarah’s Key  by Tatiana de Rosnay.  Rosnay has a new book out, The House I Loved which is also set in Paris, but in the 1860s when houses are being demolished by order of Napoleon III.  A widow, determined not to leave her home to be destroyed, hides out in the cellar where she writes letters to her deceased husband and ultimately reveals a long held secret.

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