The world of books evens the playing field-- delivering truth, connectedness, and beauty across miles and generations. These are a few of my favorite reads that have inspired, shaped, and motivated me.

Friday, May 25, 2012

"The Sense of an Ending" - Julian Barnes

"The Sense of an Ending" is a gripping reflection
of a life half-lived, as the title character notes the
changes in his life and the impending nature
of the grave.

In his sixties now, Tony has begun excavating his
past in hopes of finding some answers, spurred on
by a mystery surrounding a former
lover and events of a lifetime ago.

What bearing does the suicide of a college
friend have on the present? Will history repeat itself?
Is Tony's life salvageable?
What are the motivations behind his
ex and her angry, aloof, ominous presence?

Though intriguing, the mystery and the unveiling
of secrets actually took a backseat to what was the preeminent
feature of the book; Barnes' retrospective of a life
half-lived. Or, at least, lived in a fugue state.

The commentary on memory, perspective, aging,
and obsolescence is remarkable...absolutely
spot-on and mesmerizing. Better than any self-help
book or psychological treatise on the matter.
The honesty and depth of the shares are

The circuitousness of the story, flashing back on events--or is
it merely remembrances--of time as a college man, of his
marriage, of trying to all makes for a beautiful
flow, each non-event later underscoring something significant.
A beautiful and haunting search for meaning and truth...
identity and understanding.

Monday, May 14, 2012

"Lost Saints of Tennessee" by Amy Franklin Willis

"Lost Saints of Tennessee" is a story about a man-- who's
fallen from grace-- attempting to pick up the pieces of his life.
In  the wake of his divorce, a high school reunion, an
inability to overcome his brother's death, and all the
regular hard bits of life, he is running from life and his
own feelings.

That journey takes him to an old safe house where he attempts
to reconcile what he wants and how--or whether--he can continue.

Through flashbacks and letters, and later through another
character's recounting, we discover how a life can become
so fractured and lost.

In the present, he attempts to grow and overcome the
burden of his past...with his mother, his ex-wife, his daughters,
and his own failures and inescapable grief.
It's the ultimate mid-life crisis survival guide!

This is a great character piece, delving into true Southern
living as family drama, small town worries, and earlier
days are the inspiration for a captivating tale.

(Willis is an eighth-generation Southerner, and
many of the stories are based on her father's stories
of his life.)

Taking place in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia,
there is plenty of adventure and drama throughout,
and in one of my favorite writing 'tricks,' we
get to see events from the different perspectives
that make up the whole.
We get to see how our subjective views so often distort

A beautiful story of redemption, soul-searching,
fear, forgiveness, and love.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Books; The only positive binding

Free access to all works, always.



A Novel Concept

The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins

I'm not usually one for following fanfare to discover a new
book, but I heard so many adults proclaiming what an
addictive treat this series was, I finally gave it a try....
and I'm thrilled I did.

The Hunger Games is a wonderful allegory for class
warfare, and the timing of it's advanced popularity (and movie
release) is appropriate, with the '99' and anti-Wall Street/Big
Business sentiment sweeping this country.

Like its predecessor, 1984, it's a dystopian future where
the problems of the present socio-political landscape have
worsened in a science-fiction landscape several years removed
from our present. (But really, the modern-day similarities
are chilling!) It's an apt indictment of our lop-sided economic
system through a creative and blunt allegorical bent.

Given the proclamation of the individual's strength and the
outsider status of the lead character, Katniss, being celebrated,
you can easily imagine why conservatives and religious sorts--
the very ones whose totalitarian rule is questioned and challenged
in the series--are against kids reading the series.

There's a reason books like The Hunger Games, 1984, Lord
of the Flies, and others are attacked; it's the same reason they
are selected as required and recommended reading by
educators. They speak to the very nature of the human
experience. That's enough to make some folks very uncomfortable.

The problems inherent in the series are not those singularly
experienced by tweens and teens, whom the book features/and
targeted; it addresses family obligation, unfairness of life, brutality,
oppression, finding one's voice, facing what comes, determining
one's worth, and,

Although a little over 300 pages, this was an especially quick read
since I was so captivated I could not stop reading.