Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bookclub Discussion Goes Into Overtime!

Last night's bookclub discussion of "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" was by far the best that we have had in quite a while. There were many great discussions about the author's unusual presentation, the characters and their actions. We wished everyone could have made it to this gathering in Lori's festively decorated "Woman's Cave" (or did you call it a "Girl's Cave"? I don't recall exactly...)!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Review of 'Willie Mays; The Life, The Legend'

Editorial Reviews Review
Authorized by Willie Mays and written by a New York Times bestselling author, this is the definitive biography of one of baseball's immortals.
Considered to be "as monumental--and enigmatic--a legend as American sport has ever seen" (Sports Illustrated), Willie Mays is arguably the greatest player in baseball history, still revered for the passion he brought to the game. He began as a teenager in the Negro Leagues, became a cult hero in New York, and was the headliner in Major League Baseball's bold expansion to California. With 3,283 hits, 660 home runs, and 338 stolen bases, he was a blend of power, speed, and stylistic bravado that enraptured fans for more than two decades. Now, in the first biography authorized by and written with the cooperation of Willie Mays, James Hirsch reveals the man behind the player.

Willie is perhaps best known for "The Catch"--his breathtaking over-the-shoulder grab in the 1954 World Series. But he was a transcendent figure who received standing ovations in enemy stadiums and who, during the turbulent civil rights era, urged understanding and reconciliation. More than his records, his legacy is defined by the pure joy that he brought to fans and the loving memories that have been passed to future generations so they might know the magic and beauty of the game. With meticulous research, and drawing on interviews with Mays himself as well as with close friends, family, and teammates, Hirsch presents a complex portrait of one of America's most significant cultural icons.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Love This Poem!

This poem captures how I have felt many times especially in my youth...

Evening Star
by Charles Goodrich

Fork down hay
for the white-face steers.
Sit in the hay mow door
watching the horses graze,
chewing myself a dry clover sprig.

Long day over.
No evening plans.
Dust motes drift
on the ambering light.
Pigeons flap and coo in the rafters.

First star now
low in the east.
Sweat cools
and crusts on my face,
muscles lean back on their bones

and all thoughts heal down
to a low whistling.

"Evening Star" by Charles Goodrich, from Insects of South Corvallis

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter

Matt Prior, a hapless, middle-aged protagonist, is on a late-night milk run at the 7/11 when he meets with destiny in the form of Skeet and Jamie, two stoned, twenty-something gangbangers with unfortunate tattoos and uncertain futures. Despite the trappings of upper-middle class, Matt's future is equally uncertain. A former journalist, he quit his job at the newspaper to pursue the creation of an unlikely website that synthesized two of his key interests - investment advice and blank verse poetry. After the predictable demise of, Matt is quickly burning through his limited resources and is now in imminent danger of losing his house to the bank and his wife to an ex-boyfriend.

So it is just another in a string of bad choices that finds Matt taking hits from a glass pipe as he chauffers Jamie and Skeet to a party of similarly low-rolling derelict youths, while the boys, in the argot of their peer group, eloquently expound on the provenance of the marijuana that the trio are smoking:

“Shit’s designer. Like three hunnerd an ounce," Skeet says.

The next roll of coughs I can’t suppress. "Really?"

"Definitely," Jamie explains, voice lilting with excitement. "In this lab in British Columbia? This Nobel Prize dude? He Frankensteined that shit? It’s knock-off, but shit’s still pretty good. They can do whatever you want to it, you know? Make it do a thousand different things to your mind, yo.”
Readers familiar with Showtime's hit television series Weeds (and even those who are not) will find the direction that Matt's plight takes unsurprising, but Jess Walter, an extremely talented novelist in whose hands the characters of Matt’s new juvenile delinquent friends and senile father are each rendered with fantastic believability, intricately weaves narrative sub-threads into this perhaps predictable plot line to balance humor with pathos as Matt’s world unravels in the wake of his increasingly desperate decisions.

Yes, despite Matt’s on-rushing collapse amidst the same mortgage crisis that is a harsh reality for many of us, The Financial Lives of the Poets surprisingly turns out to be the funniest book I’ve read in a long time and Jess Walter, a new author to follow.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Review of 'Unaccustomed Earth'

Unaccustomed Earth Jhumpa Lahiri

" The idea of excess, of being out of control, did not appeal to Sudha. Competence: this was the trait that fundamentally defined her." SEARCH THE SITE

Reviewed by Vanessa Gebbie

Of the eight stories in this collection the title story is my favourite. Four or five reads in and Unaccustomed Earth still gives up its treasures, as each scene seems to contain more and more images and references that deepen the whole. And yet nothing seems placed. This writer’s style appears natural and effortless. The prose flows by smoothly, beautifully. The central character of this story, the first in the collection, is Ruma, a lawyer and second- generation Bengali living in the USA. She is married to an American. They have a child, Akash, who is three, and she is pregnant again. She is very isolated. Her husband’s work has moved them to Seattle, where she knows no one, and Ruma has given up work to look after Akash before he goes to school. Despite herself, she finds herself living the life she was determined to rise above: “Her mother’s example – moving to a foreign place for the sake of marriage, caring exclusively for children and a household – had served as a warning, a path to avoid. Yet this was Ruma’s life, now.” Her husband is away for a week, and she is visited for the first time since her mother’s unexpected death, by her widowed father. The story contains moments of aching poignancy as memories rise up and as Ruma and her father seek to find comfortable common ground. The story switches seamlessly between their two points of view, and between story present and memory. Lahiri explores with great tenderness what it is to be pulled in different directions in the small struggles that surface for them both each day of her father’s short visit.

June Bookclub Moves It Outside!

We had a great time at bookclub tonight at my house. Despite the rain earlier in the day we were able to go outside to eat burgers, discuss 'The Things They Carried' and make GIANT SMORES! The wind was enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay and it wasn't too cool. I would call this my favorite weather.

We missed you Candace, Michelle and Jim! Have safe travels tomorrow Lee and Candace. And thanks again for the wonderful treat Rhonda (Elk Sausage)!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

'Things They Carried' Recent "Big Read" Events

The Big Read 2011
The Big Read, created by the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest, is designed to draw communities together around a single book through a month long series of related literary events. The goal is to restore reading to the center of a community’s culture. According to a 2004 report by the National Endowment for the Arts, Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, “not only is literary reading in America declining rapidly among all groups, but the rate of decline has accelerated, especially among the young.” The Big Read aims to address this crisis by celebrating some of the greatest books.

For 2011, Get Lit! Programs is hosting Spokane County’s third Big Read series March 4th through April 16th. This year’s selection, Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, is a collection of stories about soldiers who served during the Vietnam War. O’Brien is a combat veteran of the Vietnam War and his book was chosen because it exemplifies the festival theme: “Telling the American Story.” Tracing the tour of one American platoon, The Things They Carried is considered one of the finest books ever written about combat and was a finalist for both the 1990 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Our goal is to encourage as many people as possible to read and discuss this book in 2011.

Tim O’Brien received the 1979 National Book Award in fiction for Going After Cacciato. His other works include July, July and In the Lake of the Woods, which received the James Fenimore Cooper Prize from the Society of American Historians and was named the best novel of 1994 by Time.

The Big Read opens on March 4 with a reception hosted by Spokane mayor, Mary Verner, featuring stories by veterans of foreign wars. Following the kick-off, there will be multiple tie-in events related to the book. For example, Eastern Washington University’s Theater Department wrote an adaptation of the book which will be staged from March 4-12. There will be a Wednesday night film series related to the 1960’s and/or wars in general at one of two locations downtown. Multiple book discussions will be open to the public at local libraries, bookstores, and community spots. The Big Read will then culminate in an evening with Vietnam-War veteran Tim O’Brien and Iraq-War veteran and poet Brian Turner, during the Get Lit! Festival on April 16th at The Bing Crosby Theater.

For more information about the national efforts made by The Big Read, visit

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier

At the age of twelve, an orphan named Will Cooper is given a horse, a key, and a map and is sent on a journey through the uncharted wilderness of the Cherokee Nation. Will is a bound boy, obliged to run a remote Indian trading post. As he fulfills his lonesome duty, Will finds a father in Bear, a Cherokee chief, and is adopted by him and his people, developing relationships that ultimately forge Will’s character. All the while, his love of Claire, the enigmatic and captivating charge of volatile and powerful Featherstone, will forever rule Will’s heart. In a voice filled with both humor and yearning, Will tells of a lifelong search for home, the hunger for fortune and adventure, the rebuilding of a trampled culture, and above all an enduring pursuit of passion.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, Chicago Tribune,
and St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“A literary journey of magnitude . . . Thirteen Moons belongs to the ages.”
–Los Angeles Times

Praise for Merle's Door

Merle's Door
Lessons from a Freethinking Dog

By Ted Kerasote
Publication Date: April 2008

Now including a wonderful new photo insert chronicling Merle’s life, this national bestseller explores the relationship between humans and dogs. How would dogs live if they were free? Would they stay with their human friends?

Merle and Ted found each other in the Utah desert— Merle was living wild and Ted was looking for a pup to keep him company. As their bond grew, Ted taught Merle how to live around wildlife, and Merle taught Ted about the benefits of letting a dog make his own decisions.

Using the latest in wolf research and exploring issues of animal consciousness and leadership and the origins of the human-dog relationship, Ted Kerasote takes us on the journey he and Merle shared. As much a love story as a story of independence and partnership, Merle’s Door is tender, funny, and ultimately illuminating.

About the Author
TED KERASOTE is the author of many books, including the national bestseller Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog and Out There, which won the National Outdoor Book Award. His essays and photographs have appeared in Audubon, Geo, Outside, Science, the New York Times, and more than sixty other periodicals.

Michelle's House Rocks!

We missed you Candace and Julie! Candace, as a lover of dogs, we think that you would really have liked this book. We wish we had your feedback on how the author described his relationship with his amazing partner and friend, Merle.

Michelle, the Apple Dumplings were amazing! I probably shouldn't share the special ingredient so "mums" the word. It was a really fun evening so thanks for sharing your home and family with us rowdy folk!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

'The Lacuna' Discussion

We missed you Candace and Michelle!

Joe was a wonderful host as always and the newly restored wooden floors look great! I hear that the Chocolate Mousse was great and so was the Pieces of Red....

We had a wide ranging discussion tonight about Kingsolver's latest book, a historical novel taking place in Mexico and the U.S. She is a great storyteller and weaves her fictional characters in with real people and events with interesting and provocative style.

We also discussed the possibility of going back up to Hill's Resort on Priest Lake the second weekend of October. Thanks for bringing it up Rhonda!! See everyone in five weeks...

Thursday, January 27, 2011


The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
The Lacuna 3.73 · rating details · 7,526 ratings · 2,769 reviews
In her most accomplished novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities.

Friday, January 14, 2011

'The Patron Saint of Liars' by Ann Patchett

We had a great discussion at Candace's house about a book that none of us really liked. I think that we agreed that we liked the way the author writes and develops her characters but we didn't like the characters themselves. Someone said that it was Ann Patchett's first novel. It doesn't compare with her novel, 'Bel Canto', that we read several years ago which we all agreed was wonderful.