Thursday, October 29, 2015

Knopf 100-- Day 11

37. Truth is, I could talk about Rick Bragg’s books forever. I am a complete and total fool for his writing; he takes my breath away.  This is the sentence that did me in, just a few pages into his first book, All Over But the Shoutin’:

“Anyone could tell it, anyone who had a momma who went eighteen years without a new dress so that her sons could have school clothes, who picked cotton in other people's fields and ironed other people's clothes and cleaned the mess in other people's houses, so that her children didn't have to live on welfare alone, so that one of them could climb up her backbone and escape the poverty and hopelessness that ringed them, free and clean.”

It’s hard to imagine a follow up memoir more beautiful, emotional, or more personal than his first, but then Bragg wrote a ridiculously gorgeous book about his maternal grandfather, Charlie Bundrum, who held together his family bit by bit with any work he could get. Charlie could not read so he asked his wife, Ava, to read the paper to him every day so he would not be ignorant.

''A man like Charlie Bundrum doesn't leave much else, not title or property, not even letters in the attic. There's just stories, all told second- and third-hand, as long as somebody remembers. The thing to do, if you can, is write them down on new paper.''

38. I read The Postman Always Rings Twice when I was probably fifteen or sixteen years old. It was not only my introduction to noir and crime novels, but light S&M. While I don't read crime novels that much anymore....just kidding, I still love love crime novels! What I love about this book is that the pace is both deliberate but manages a thriller tempo keeping you turning the pages. I guess the same can be said about S&M, you'd have to ask Liz. This may be the one novel that has a film adaptation (or in this case a handful of adaptations) that I haven't seen. I also haven't seen the stage adaptation starring Val Kilmer.  Life is unfair, I guess.

39. Self Help by Lorrie Moore was probably one of the first books I read as an official adult (thanks Glenwood, Illinois, Public Library, sorry about the overdue fines I never paid). Published when I was a mature eighteen year old (no), I read this while slacking off at the animal hospital where I worked after school. I think this was my introduction into smart funny literary books, It also made me a lifelong fan of Lorrie Moore (and I am pretty sure she feels the same way about me).  So Liz and I don't get in a big fight, I will leave it to her to write about Moore's masterpiece, Birds of America. You're welcome, Liz.

40. My favorite book of 2003 and certainly on my list of best collections of stories that I've ever read, How to Breath Underwater by Julie Orringer succeeds on every level for me. The stories are smart, unusual in theme (certainly a decade ago), modern, dark, and beautifully written. The introductory story, "Pilgrims" will floor you, and if you are female you most certainly will identify, at least in part to  "Note to Sixth Grade Self." I love this collection and have a feeling Orringer will make the Knopf 100 blog again with her novel, The Invisible Bridge which both Liz and I loved.

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