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RE: [bookclub-1066] New Poll

From: Sharon S.
Sent on: Friday, July 18, 2008 4:33 PM

The Stone Diaries




From: [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] On Behalf Of Virginia
Sent: Thursday, July 17,[masked]:15 PM
To: [address removed]
Subject: [bookclub-1066] New Poll


I have posted a poll with choices for our August book. Please vote when you have a chance. The poll will close Saturday, July 19 at 5:00 pm.

The choices are:

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (1995 Pulitzer Prize)
This fictionalized autobiography of Daisy Goodwill Flett, captured in Daisy's vivacious yet reflective voice, has been winning over readers since its publication in 1995, when it won the Pulitzer Prize. After a youth marked by sudden death and loss, Daisy escapes into conventionality as a middle-class wife and mother. Years later she becomes a successful garden columnist and experiences the kind of awakening that thousands of her contemporaries in mid-century yearned for but missed in alcoholism, marital infidelity and bridge clubs. The events of Daisy's life, however, are less compelling than her rich, vividly described inner life--from her memories of her adoptive mother to her awareness of impending death. Shields' sensuous prose and her deft characterizations make this, her sixth novel, her most successful yet. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo (New York Times Top 100 of 2007)
SignatureReviewed by Jeffrey FrankRichard Russo's portraits of smalltown life may be read not only as fine novels but as invaluable guides to the economic decline of the American Northeast. Russo was reared in Gloversville, N.Y. (which got its name from the gloves no longer manufactured there), and a lot of mid–20th-century Gloversville can be found in his earlier fiction (Mohawk; The Risk Pool). It reappears in Bridge of Sighs, Russo's splendid chronicle of life in the hollowed-out town of Thomaston, N.Y., where a tannery's runoff is slowly spreading carcinogenic ruin.At the novel's center is Lou C. Lynch (his middle initial wins him the unfortunate, lasting nickname Lucy), but the narrative, which covers more than a half-century, also unfolds through the eyes of Lou's somewhat distant and tormented friend, Bobby Marconi, as well as Sarah Berg, a gifted artist who Lou marries and who loves Bobby, too. The lives of the Lynches, the Bergs and the Marconis intersect in various ways, few of them happy; each family has its share of woe. Lou's father, a genial milkman, is bound for obsolescence and leads his wife into a life of shopkeeping; Bobby's family is being damaged by an abusive father. Sarah moves between two parents: a schoolteacher father with grandiose literary dreams and a scandal in his past and a mother who lives in Long Island and leads a life that is far from exemplary. Russo weaves all of this together with great sureness, expertly planting clues—and explosives, too—knowing just when and how they will be discovered or detonate at the proper time. Incidents from youth—a savage beating, a misunderstood homosexual advance, a loveless seduction—have repercussions that last far into adulthood. Thomaston itself becomes a sort of extended family, whose unhappy members include the owners of the tannery who eventually face ruin.Bridge of Sighs is a melancholy book; the title refers to a painting that Bobby is making (he becomes a celebrated artist) and the Venetian landmark, but also to the sadness that pervades even the most contented lives. Lou, writing about himself and his dying, blue-collar town, thinks that the loss of a place isn't really so different from the loss of a person. Both disappear without permission, leaving the self diminished, in need of testimony and evidence. If there are false notes, they come with Russo's portrayal of African-Americans, who too often speak like stock characters: (Doan be given me that hairy eyeball like you doan believe, 'cause I know better, says one). But Russo has a deep and real understanding of stifled ambitions and the secrets people keep, sometimes forever. Bridge of Sighs, on every page, is largehearted, vividly populated and filled with life from America's recent, still vanishing past.Jeffrey Frank's books include The Columnist and Bad Publicity. His novel, Trudy Hopedale, was published in July by Simon & Schuster.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved

Evidence of Things Unseen: A Novel by Marianne Wiggins (National Book Award Finalist)
The redoubtable Wiggins, always fearless in choosing subjects for her work (John Dollar; Almost Heaven) here tells the story of the atomic bomb through the eyes of one average Joe, amateur chemist Ray Foster, or "Fos," of Kitty Hawk, N.C. His fascination with "the kinds of lights nature can produce, the ones not always visible to man," serves him well in lighting the trenches during the Great War in France. When it is over, fellow soldier "Flash" Handy invites Fos to help him start a photography studio in Knoxville, Tenn. In a fated moment, Fos falls in love with a glassblower's daughter, the unflappable and luminescent Opal; they marry, and Opal helps run the studio. Meanwhile, Flash turns out to be a man with many secrets, one so tragic that it separates him permanently from Fos and Opal. Their sorrow at Flash's fate is somewhat forgotten when, after years of infertility, they are granted a baby, named Lightfoot. They move to land Opal inherits in rural Tennessee, but after it is claimed by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1942, Fos finds a job in Oak Ridge with a government lab that, unbeknownst to him, is on deadline to create the atomic bomb that will be dropped on Hiroshima. In response to that horrific event and other heartache, the Fosters do something desperate that only serves to betray their nine-year-old son. Lightfoot proves to be more courageous and determined than Fos or Opal ever were, and finally finds the only person left in the world who can help him. Wiggins fits her lyrical prose to a distinctly rural, Southern cadence, easily blending the vernacular with luminous imagery, adding bits of poetry, passages explaining scientific phenomena, interpolations about the Scopes trial and even references to Moby-Dick, which serves as a leitmotif. By the time she brings the narrative full circle in a masterful and moving plot twist, she has succeeded in creating "literature as an ongoing exploration of the human tragedy-man's condition." Wiggins comes into her own with this novel, her best book to date.

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