- Fizzy Thoughts: A couple of well-traveled books

A couple of well-traveled books

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

In between my time spent hanging out with the locals at Lambeau Field and Ashwaubenon Bowl, I've done a little reading. In fact, I'm down to one book, so I'm getting a little twitchy.

This was the book I finished on the plane, The Center of Everything, by Laura Moriarty.

It was a straight-forward tale of growing up in the '80s in a small Kansas town. Evelyn's father ran off before she was born, so it's just Evelyn and her mom. The story centers around Evelyn, and her growing awareness of her mom's struggle as a single mom in a fairly conservative town, Evelyn's own struggles with not quite fitting in, and small town values. It was a fairly simple, yet interesting book. Probably because the author weaves in so many things that I remember from growing up (OP sweatshirts, Challenger, that scary movie about a nuclear bomb that we weren't allowed to watch, Reagan, Carter...). Two thumbs up, especially if you were a kid in the '80s. Guess that rules you out, Mack. :-D

I followed that one up with When Madeline Was Young, by Jane Hamilton.

First off, the back of the book does a crap job of explaining this book. Not that I'll do much better, but still. It says it's a book about Madeline, a young wife who is in a bicycle accident and regresses to the state of about a six year old. Her husband and his new wife care for Madeline for the rest of their lives.

Yes, the book is about that. But it is told from the viewpoint of Timothy, who would technically be an ex-stepson of Madeline. Timothy talks about his parents, his sister, Madeline, the neighbors, his aunt, uncle, cousins, wife and daughters. In fact, for the first four chapters, Madeline was almost incidental to the story, and I was feeling like a victim of false advertising. The book is set primarily in the '50s and '60s, and political debate is a key part of the family, and the book. Timothy is a doctor, and there is some weird medical jargon and terminology tossed in. And there are many references to composers and literature, because the family is well-read and educated. More so than me, because a lot of it went over my head. So I probably didn't appreciate this book as much as the author wanted, but tough. It was okay, just not what I was expecting.

Although the author is from Wisconsin, so I guess that's appropriate.

1 comment(s):

LisaMM said...

The Madeline book sounds tragic, but also seems to offer quite a bit of fodder for discussion. I may have to take a look at it as a possible suggestion for my book club. Thanks!

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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