“The trees they passed repeated on and on into the woods. None was remarkable when compared to the next, but each was individual in some small regard: the number of limbs, the girth of trunk, the circumference of shed leaves encircling the base. No more than minor peculiarities, but minor particularities were what transformed two eyes, a nose, and a mouth into a face.”
– A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA
by Anthony Marra
Hogarth, May 7, 2013
Hardcover, 379 pages
Source: TLC Book Tours
Late one snowy night, eight-year-old Havaa’s father, Dokka, is violently taken from their home in a small village in Chechnya as she watches from a hiding place in the woods. Also watching is their neighbor and family friend, Akhmed. Knowing that Dokka has been abducted by the Feds for aiding Chechen rebels and that his daughter is not safe, Akhmed rescues Havaa and takes her to a nearly abandoned hospital in the nearest city, where he hopes the only remaining doctor, Sonja, will allow them refuge.
The overburdened surgeon reluctantly allows them to stay in the partially bombed hospital, partly due to Akhmed’s false claims of being a skilled doctor. In addition to the strain of running a hospital in a war-torn country on her own, Sonja is struggling with the disappearance of her sister, Natasha, a year before. Continue reading
“I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation- a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any Here. They spoke quietly of how they wanted to go someday, to move about, free and unanchored, not toward something but away from something. I saw this look and heard this yearning everywhere in every states I visited. Nearly every American hungers to move.”
– Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
THE GODS OF HEAVENLY PUNISHMENT
by Jennifer Cody Epstein
Norton, March 2013
Hardcover, 378 pages
Source: TLC Book Tours
The Gods of Heavenly Punishment is a sweeping epic spanning from 1935 to 1962 and centering on the war between the US and Japan. In a format that I have really grown to like, this novel tells the stories of multiple families and individuals, how the war affects them, and how they are connected.
In the first chapter, we meet Cam, a young man falling in love with a girl named Lacy. When next we see Cam, he is a pilot in the Doolittle Raid, the first US air raid to strike Japan during WWII. Continue reading
One of my favorite things about books is their ability to transport me to places that I have never been in real life. Through reading, I’ve trekked across Tibet, spent a year in Paris, wandered the streets of Tokyo, hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, and made a mad dash across the US with my buddy Jack Kerouac. Of course, reading about interesting places doesn’t come close to the amazingness of actual travel, and I am a long-time sufferer of wanderlust. In the last few years, I have been fortunate enough to spend four months in London, travel to five European countries, and drive from New York to California and back. These are some of the greatest experiences of my life, and I am always eager for my next adventure… which is starting tomorrow! Continue reading
“People hide the sad things in the world from their sight. Bury their grief and, not facing the pain of their loss, devalue everything around them. They act like there’s just one piece missing when what is missing was a part of everything.”
–Zazen by Vanessa Veselka
WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE
by Maria Semple
Little, Brown, Aug. 2012
Hardcover, 326 pages
Where’d You Go, Bernadette has been a major buzz book since its publication nearly a year ago, and I finally got around to requesting it from the library! I really had no idea what to expect from this book when I got it: something about a missing mother, going to Antarctica, and an epistolary format? What sealed the deal for me to read this book was finding out that Maria Semple used to be a writer for Arrested Development, one of my favorite TV shows. I knew that if this book was even half as funny as the show, I would love it. It was, and I did! Continue reading
SALVAGE THE BONES
by Jesmyn Ward
Bloomsbury, Aug. 2011
Paperback, 258 pages
In Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, the radio warns of an impending hurricane, but the Batiste children aren’t worried. Only their hard-drinking, widowed father is concerned that this hurricane will be worse than all of the others his family has experienced.
As Daddy prepares for the hurricane, Esch, our fifteen-year-old narrator, struggles with her discovery that she is pregnant; Skeeter takes care of his prized pit bull, China, and her newborn puppies; Randall practices for an important basketball game; and Junior, the youngest, is just gets into everyone else’s business. Continue reading
“She looked and then saw two stars fall out of the sky, trailing a brief silver thread behind them. Then there were more stars moving, dropping like spiders. They faded slowly into the black sky like ink being absorbed into paper. It was as if the whole sky was dropping stitches, unravelling itself ready to fall and drape over them like a blanket. And she lay there, looking up, and as each star fell closer towards them she thought: that was the best one so far, no maybe that one,
no that one
— Diving Belles by Lucy Wood
Pretty books at the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair!
It’s monthly reading re-cap time! April was a pretty good month for me; I read a bunch of really great books and did some other awesome things.
In early April, I attended the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair, a great annual event that brings together booksellers, authors, poets, artists, zinesters, and book enthusiasts from around the region. Instead of blathering on about it here, though, I’ll direct you to my post about it.
I also had my birthday in April! Thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday, and to Rebecca for the lovely card! Continue reading