Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Nevermore: Yellow Wife, Maus, Phone Booth at the Edge of the World, Sunday Times Travel Book


Reported by Garry


This meeting was the first in-person meeting that we have had since March of 2021, and it was wonderful seeing everyone in person.


The first book discussed today was The Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson.  This historical novel follows the story of Pheby Delores Brown a young mixed-race woman who lives in Charles City, Virginia in 1850.  Promised her freedom at age 18, Pheby instead is incarcerated in Devil’s Half Acre, an infamously sadistic slave prison in Richmond, Virginia, where she must fight to survive against all odds.  Our reader said that this enthralling, extremely well written book is an important look at the lives of enslaved African Americans and what they had to both endure and undertake in order to survive.


Next up was Maus by Art Spiegelman.  This graphic novel recounts Spiegelman’s father’s time in Poland as a Jew during World War II, and Spiegelman’s difficult relationship with his father.   Maus depicts the Jews as mice, German Nazis as cats, and the Polish as pigs.  This graphic novel was the first long-form comic that was taken seriously in academia and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, and to this date remains the only graphic novel to have won a Pulitzer Prize.   Our reader highly recommends this groundbreaking book.


The intriguingly named The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Messina was the next book reviewed.  This international best-selling book tells the story of Yui, a Japanese lady who lost her mother and sister in the March 11, 2011 tsunami that devastated costal Japan.  Consumed by her grief, Yui learns of a local man who has an old crank style telephone in a booth in his garden.  People can come to his booth and speak to the dead, and in doing so, start their healing process by saying goodbye.  Our reader found this touching and heartwarming book to be very relevant to anyone who is dealing with grief, and highly recommends it.


Our next reader reviewed the Sunday Times Travel Book and found it fascinating, hilarious and mortifying.  This collection of stories was gathered by the British Newspaper the Sunday Times.  They held a contest asking their readers to share their most memorable travel stories, and boy did they deliver!  The Times had initially only planned to publish the top three stories, but they received so many outstanding ones that they decided to publish the top 50, which are collected in this book.  This first book, published in 1986, was so well received they have released two other books.  Our reader thought the stories published in this collection were definitely standouts in travel writing, and especially liked the forward by Paul Theroux – her favorite travel writer.


Also mentioned:

Maisie Dodd series by Jacqueline Winspear

Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel

This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing by Jacqueline Winspear

Narrative of The Life of Frederick Douglass and Other Works by Frederick Douglass

The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien

Before and After: The Incredible Story of the Real Life Mrs. Wilson by Alison Wilson

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

Between Sisters by Kristin Hannah

The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Caste:  The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson

A Cure for Darkness: The Story of Depression and How We Treat It by Alex Riley

America on Fire by Elizabeth Hinton

Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay

Reunion Beach:  A Story Collection based on Dorothea Benton Frank

When A Stranger Comes To Town edited by Michael Koryta

No comments:

Post a Comment