Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Nevermore: Animals & Men, Lord of the Mountain, Fevre Dream, Dumpty, Almost Moon, Blue Moon in Poorwater, Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun, My Lovely Wife, Broken Road

Reported by Jeanne

Animals and Men by art historian and museum director Kenneth Clark captured the attention of one of the Nevermore members.  A coffee table type book with glorious illustrations, the book details the relationship between humans and animals as depicted in works of art, spanning from cave paintings to classic Egyptian art to Western artists such as da Vinci and Degas. Our reader was particularly interested in commentary on early art and totems.

Juvenile fiction was up next with Lord of the Mountain by Ronald Kidd which tells the story of the Bristol Sessions through the eyes of thirteen year old Nate Owens whose minister father takes a very dim view of the music and new recording technology that so enchants his son.  The reviewer was enjoying this look back at 1927 Bristol and A.P. Carter, and thought most other readers would like it too.

Before Westeros made it into print, George R.R. Martin wrote stand-alone science fiction and fantasy novels such as the one a new Nevermore member chose.  Fevre Dream begins in 1857 along the Mississippi River where steamboat captain Abner Marsh receives an unbelievable business proposition.  Wealthy patron Joshua York will finance the construction of an elaborate new steamboat which Marsh will co-own with York.  After the new boat is ready, Marsh begins to notice that York and his friends have some odd behaviors which include avoiding daylight and it turns out that some suspicions are well-founded.  The book was greatly enjoyed by our reader who recommended it for all vampire fans.

Actor John Lithgow has a new illustrated book of verse out entitled Dumpty: The Age of Trump in verse. The Nevermore member said it covered a number of political figures and that the illustrations were “a riot.”

Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones, has an equally dark book in The Almost Moon.  As the book begins, middle aged divorcee Helen shockingly kills her elderly mother. The rest of the book explores Helen’s life and relationships, all informed by mental illness.  While the book can be grim at times, our reviewer said it was a good read and showed how “mental illness metastasizes to others in a family.” 

Blue Moon in Poorwater by Cathryn Hankla came out in 1988 but is set in 1968 in an Appalachian mining town. Ten year old Dorie and her best friend are confronted with a rapidly changing world, and not just the one of rockets and politics.  Dorie was described as a mix between Scout and Anne Frank, a young girl trying to make sense of the world. Her older brother has returned, and is seen as some sort of dangerous hippie; her father, a miner, is fighting for workers’ rights; and Dorie is becoming aware of the social divide that exists even in a small Virginia town.  This book captivated its reader who proclaimed it to be “better than Where the Crawdads Sing.

The enticingly titled Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun drew in another member who admits she had some doubts before starting this slender volume. The story centers around Morayo Da Silav, a 74 year old Nigerian woman living in San Francisco. She’s sophisticated and well-traveled, a retired English professor was once the wife of an ambassador. Morayo retains her love of life but an accident threatens to curtail her independence.  Our reviewer said that author Sarah Ladipo Manyika did an excellent job of exploring aging and creating memorable characters. 

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing concerns a couple who share a hobby— serial murder.  The book is narrated by the husband who picks women up in bars, then his wife tortures and murders them.  Then the recently killed body of one of their victims is found, only she should have been killed months ago, leading our narrator to wonder just how far he should trust his wife.  The Nevermore reader said that this book kept her from moving and that she read the entire book in one day!

In The Broken Road:  George Wallace and a Daughter’s Journey to Reconciliation, Peggy Wallace Kennedy describes growing up as the daughter of the staunchly segregationist Wallace.  She maintains that some of his rhetoric was due more to politics than to personal belief and that he attempted to atone for it later in life.  Our reviewer said she found it interesting, and enjoyed it more than she thought she would.

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