Friday, March 21, 2014

The Margarets by Sheri S Tepper

First sentence:

"Once a very long time ago, between fifty and a hundred thousand years, a small group of humans fleeing from predators took refuge in a cave."


"The myriad alien civilizations populating far, distant worlds have many good reasons to detest the blight called "humankind" . . .

The only human child living in a work colony on the Martian satellite Phobos, little Margaret Bain has invented six imaginary companions to keep boredom and loneliness at bay. Each an extension of her personality, they are lost to her when she is forced to return to Earth. But they are not gone.

The time will come when Margaret, fully grown and wed, must leave this dying world as well—this Earth so denuded by thoughtlessness and chemistry that its only viable export is slaves. For now Margarets are scattered throughout the galaxy. And their creator must bring her selves home . . . or watch the human race perish."  -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I liked this book about identities and working with others to make a difference. While at times the plot was confusing to me, at the end, it all came together nicely. I especially liked the part when the "Margarets" met each other and learned where they each came from.

Date read: 3/20/2014
Book #: 10
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: SF

ISBN-10: 0061170690
ISBN-13: 9780061170690
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Year: 2009 (Reprint)
# of pages: 528
Binding: Mass Market Paperback
LibraryThing page

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Saul Bellow's Heart by Greg Bellow

First sentence:

"On a visit to Chicago when I was eight, I witnessed a terrible argument, in Yiddish, between my father and grandfather."


In this warm, affectionate, yet strikingly honest memoir, Greg Bellow offers a unique look inside the life of his father, one of America’s greatest twentieth-century writers. Saul Bellow, the famous but fiercely private Nobel Prize winner, was known to be quick to anger and prone to argument, but he shared a tender bond with Greg, his firstborn.

In Saul Bellow’s Heart, Greg gives voice to a side of Saul unknown to most, the “young Saul”—emotionally accessible, often soft, with a set of egalitarian social values and the ability to laugh at the world’s folly and at himself. Saul’s accessibility and lightheartedness waned as he aged, and his social views hardened. This is the “old Saul” most well known to the world, and these changes taxed the relationship between Bellow and his son, now an adult, so sorely that Greg often worried that it wouldn’t survive. But theirs were differences of mind, not of the heart. Interweaving memories, personal stories, and autobiographical references in Saul’s books on which he can shed a unique light, Greg Bellow reveals himself to be a fine prose stylist and never shies away from the truth about his father.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this biography of Saul Bellow. Greg Bellow brings the reader behind the scenes, showing how Saul's life events portrayed in characters like Henderson, Herzog, etc. He also presents a candid look at relationships, especially regarding how they evolve over the years.

Date read: 3/15/2014
Book #: 9
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Biography

ISBN-10: 1608199959
ISBN-13: 9781608199952
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Year: 2013
# of pages: 223
Binding: Hardcover
LibraryThing page

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay

First sentence:

"Harry was in his little house on the edge of Back Bay when at half past twelve her voice came over the radio for the first time."


Harry Boyd, a hard-bitten refugee from failure in Toronto television, has returned to a small radio station in the Canadian North. There, in Yellowknife, in the summer of 1975, he falls in love with a voice on air. He soon discovers that the real woman, Dido Paris, is even more than he imagined.

Dido and Harry are part of the cast of eccentric, beguiling characters who form an unlikely group of colleagues at the station. As summer progresses, we gradually discover their loves and longings, their professional and personal rivalries, the stories of their pasts and what brought each of them to the North. When four of them embark on a canoe trip into the Arctic wilderness, tracing the journey of the ill-fated Englishman John Hornby, their lives are altered, much as the balance of power in the North is being changed by the proposed Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline, which threatens to rip open the Arctic and displace Native people from their land.

Hay has a skewering intelligence about the frailties of the human heart. Weaving stories from the past into the present, she builds a fresh, erotic, darkly witty and moving tale, replete with sentences that will stop you dead because of

Elizabeth Hay has been compared to Annie Proulx, Alice Hoffman, and Isabel Allende, yet she is uniquely herself. With unforgettable characters, vividly evoked settings, in this new novel, Hay brings to bear her  and her ability to tell a spellbinding story. Written in gorgeous prose, laced with dark humour, Late Nights on Air is Hay’s most seductive and accomplished novel yet.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book about people at a radio station in the Canadian North. I especially liked the interactions between the characters and the life-changing trip some of them make.

Date read: 3/11/2014
Book #: 8
Rating: 4*/5 = great
Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 0771040199
ISBN-13: 9780771040191
Publisher: Counterpoint
Year: 2008
# of pages: 364
Binding: Trade Paperback
LibraryThing page