Friday, November 6, 2015

Knopf 100--Day 19

69.  In Sons of Mississippi Paul Hendrickson looks to identify and interview the men in an iconic photo taken just before the integration of the University of Mississippi in 1962. The men in the photo (which appears as the cover of the book) don't know that their lives are about to change, that the photo would land on the cover of Life Magazine. As the years pass they would of course find themselves on the wrong side of history which would be documented in this photograph forever. What happened to these men? What about their children, their grandchildren? I thought about this photograph a lot this summer as marriage equality became the law of the land; what would become of those people, what will their children think in thirty years (or five)? This is one of the best social history books I've ever read, as good as Jonathan Kozol's Savage Inequalities, Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, or The Other America by Michael Harrington.

70.  Maggie O'Farrell writes smart, clever, interesting books often about families in crisis. Instructions for a Heatwave, set in 1975 London, finds the adult children of Robert Riordan looking for him after he sets out for an errand one morning and doesn't return. As the novels moves forward we learn that each member of the family is hiding something, holding shame, or
possibly not being who they appear to be. I devoured this novel in a day, could not put it down to save my life. I love when a novel captivates you to the point where you not only can't put the book down, but then move on to the author's previous books - which is exactly what I did. O'Farrell has not disappointed me.

71.  Breaking Clean is a really lovely memoir. Blunt was raised on a Montana in the 1950's and
1960's, sans indoor plumbing. She went to school in a one room schoolhouse, and upon graduating high school was expected to marry and become a traditional ranch wife and mother. After over a decade of marriage and three children, Blunt summons the courage to walk away from her marriage, from the ranching life she loves, to go to college and study poetry. She searches and finds her authentic self.

72.  I wanted to include this completely fantastic collection of stories in this group because it's now occurred to me that this post could use some levity, some humor, which these stories have in spades, though they do explore the underbelly of love, and the sadness of it as well--I Am an Executioner: Love Stories by Rajesh Parameswaran (spelled by memory folks). Love stories, yes, but also our love of power. Love and power. The opening story, “The Infamous Bengal Ming,” is narrated by a tiger who is absolutely lovesick over the death of his trainer who he accidentally mauled to death. This happens in Liz's relationship with her cat, Zorro, quite a bit; it's been documented here on the blog several times. These stories are truly original, and this was my favorite collection of 2012. If you can, try to read this in just a few sittings because the stories really connect on different levels. Tick tock Mr. Parameswaran (totally by memory) I am waiting for another book.

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