Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Nevermore: Anne Tyler, Doerr, Mukherjee, Lindemuth, Winspear, Powell

Nevermore has moved into the internet age with COVID-19, so this week’s meeting was courtesy of Zoom.  Technical glitches aside, it was wonderful to have so many familiar faces on the screen!

The first book up was Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler.  It’s the story of a 40-something year old Micah Mortimer who has a steady female companion but who immerses himself in his need for order and quiet.  He works as a super for an apartment building and also offers tech support as the Tech Hermit.  He lives a very orderly, safe existence until one day when a young man shows up on his doorstep, claiming to be his son.  Then Micah’s lady friend is evicted from her apartment and the man who values order and solitude is suddenly faced with the prospect of more human contact that he is used to.  While our reader usually loves Tyler’s books, she said this one just did not do it for her and is not recommended.

Our next member has been reading books by Harriet Doerr, whose first novel was the acclaimed Stones for Ibarra which was published when the author was 74.  The story centers on the Evertons, an American couple who move to a small village in Mexico to reopen a copper mine once owned by the husband’s grandfather.  The book is beautifully written. The reader also read Tiger in the Grass which is a collection of stories and essays by Doerr, including new stories with the Evertons, but also Doerr’s own reminiscences.  Both were highly recommended.

The Gene:  An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee fascinated our next reviewer. The emphasis in the book is on the history of genetics, though the author does weave his family history in to illustrate some of the principles.  However, our reader was most impressed with how the book shows that real science is about gathering data and in unbiased examination of that data.  Many of the pioneers in the field were not appreciated in their own time.  The author also wrote the excellent history of cancer entitled The Emperor of All Maladies.

In the words of Monty Python, and now for something completely different:  My Brother’s Destroyer by Clayton Lindemuth is the first in the Baer Creighton series.  Creighton is a moonshiner with the ability to know when someone is lying and who has no compunction about wreaking vengeance on those who wrong him or his dog, Fred.  The book was described as very redneck and very entertaining. 

The American Agent is the fifteenth in the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear.  Maisie is back in London after escaping Nazi Berlin, and working as an ambulance driver when she meets a young American reporter, Catherine Saxon.  When Catherine is found murdered, Maisie is called in to help investigate.  It’s an entertaining historical mystery.

Finally, Women in the War Zone by Anne Powell is once again extravagantly praised by a Nevermore member. Powell collected first-hand accounts of women who worked in hospital services on the front lines during World War I, at a time when women were not really accepted as medical personnel.  Their experiences were as horrifying as they were heroic, shedding light on a hidden part of history. Our reader admired the strong, brave, independent women she met within the pages and recommended the book very highly.

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