Supreme Courtship

November 13, 2008

Author: Christopher Buckley
Copyright: 2008
Publisher: Twelve

Started: 11/13/08
Completed: 11/16/08

I grabbed this book from the library shelf at least in part because Mr. Buckley appeared on The Daily Show recently to talk about it. He was charming and it sounded like a fun book. It is about an appointment to the Supreme Court of an unexpected judge, a woman that doesn’t quite fit the expected form. It was written well before Mrs. Palin was selected to run for Vice President, but appears to match that odd story line in many ways.

The Whiskey Rebels

November 3, 2008

Author: David Liss
Copyright: 2008
Publisher: Random House

Started: 11/3/08
Completed: 11/12/08

This is a historical novel set in the early United State; immediately post-Revolution. It has two main story lines that intersect and connect. It is told in two first person voices, and telescopes through time in places.

The plot, involving financial plots, is complex and can be confusing, but there is action and good descriptive writing. This is an enjoyable book about a period of US history that we don’t read about as often.

The Little Book

October 6, 2008

Author: Seldon Edwards
Copyright: 2008
Publisher: Dutton

Started: 10/6/08
Completed: 10/12/08

This is a time-travel book that the author worked on over some 30 years. I enjoy time-travel books both for the feeling of “being there” and for the twisted plot logic that they can bring. This is a very engaging novel. It is one of those that you hate to finish, because it has been such fun to be in this world.

Missy

October 2, 2008

Author: Chris Hannan
Copyright: 2008
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Started: 10/1/08
Completed: 10/6/08

This is a modern novel about the American West. It deals with the role of women, and with drug abuse. It is a dark novel, but an interesting read.

Pontoon

September 27, 2008

Author: Garrison Keillor
Copyright: 2007
Publisher: Viking

Started: 9/27/08
Completed: 10/1/08

This was a gift from the Lovely Karen. It is another Lake Woebegon novel. I’ve been a long-time Keillor fan, so I was looking forward to this one. And I was quiet satisfied. This is a great book.

Commonwealth

September 19, 2008

Author: Joey Goebel
Copyright: 2008
Publisher: MacAdam/Cage

Started: 9/18/08
Completed: 9/26/08

The cover says this is about a modern American political campaign.It has comedy, but also a serious side and a metaphysical side. A good, thick, modern examination of American life.

The Electric Michelangelo

September 7, 2008

Author: Sarah Hall
Copyright: 2004
Publisher: Faber and Faber

Started: 9/6/08
Completed: 9/13/08

This is a story about a man who leads a curiously solitary life as a skilled tattoo artist. It follows him from youth to old age as he grows up in a shabby English sea-side resort, apprentices to a crabby older artist, moves to America and Cony Island and ultimately back to England to settle into old age. It is what I would call a lyrical novel, with description and action interspersed with ruminations on life, art, nature, and mankind.

Breakfast With Buddha

September 1, 2008

Author: Roland Merullo
Copyright: 2008
Publisher: Algonquin

Started: 9/1/08
Completed: 9/6/08

This was another that I judged by its cover. It’s not showing here yet; LibraryThing’s cover API doesn’t have a cover to share yet (I left the link in case one is added). The cover I bought  shows a part of a traditional roadside diner table setting; sugar jar, paper-napkin holder and mustard and ketchup dispensers. But the salt and pepper shakers are little fat, Happy Buddha statues.

The book itself is a road-trip/self-discovery novel. It has a nice mix of humor and metaphysics. A very pleasant and enlightening read!

Jackson Mahaffey

August 29, 2008

Author: Fred Ross
Copyright: 1951
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Started: 8/28/08
Completed: 9/1/08

I first read this book when I was a youngster. My father owns it; i imagine he bought it, or was given it, because of the similarity to our family name. I found myself thinking about it again recently because of my genealogical hobby. I did a search and found a copy via Amazon. I thought I should read it again.

This story is not, as far as I can tell, based on anything at all in family history. The name is a coincidence. The title character is a rough and ready small-time farmer in North Carolina around the turn of the 20th Century.  He’s a sharp trader, a moonshiner, and a cock-fighter. He’s something of a ne’er do well who starts to change a bit when he meets a religious young woman.

This is a character piece and a study in rural old-fashioned Carolina life. I’ve found some mention of the  author, Fred Ross, in the proceedings of Carolina writer’s groups. He was not unknown to his contemporaries, though he is not known now.

I saw a reference in one 1950’s newsletter to his plans for a sequel. but I have never yet found anything else by Fred Ross.

Then We Came to the End

August 9, 2008

Author: Joshua Ferris
Copyright: 2007
Publisher: Bay Bay Books

Started: 8/9/08
Completed: 8/17/08

An office comedy. Noted as a National Book Award Finalist. Glowing blurbs. And it turns out to be worth the praise, though it is a slow starter. A thick, fascinating portrait of office life in America.