Category Archives: out of things to read
THE STORY OF ARTHUR TRULUV By Elizabeth Berg
Angelic Salyer Veasman is this week’s book blogger. Thanks, Angelic!
I attended the reading and signing of Berg’s latest release in early December 2017. Kind of a Christmas present to myself. I purchased my book, took my line number and found a seat. I started reading the book immediately, while waiting for the event to start, but it was a week or two before I could get back to it again. I finished the book just after the New Year and thoroughly enjoyed it. The author stated, of all of the books she’d written, this was her new favorite. While it isn’t MY favorite of hers (that would be The Year of Pleasures), I wasn’t in the least disappointed. But, I’ve not read all of her books yet.
The Story of Arthur Truluv is several intersecting tales of loss and love, heartbreak and healing, family and friendship, aging and coming of age and the legacies we leave behind – intentional or not. While the main characters are Arthur, Maddy and Lucille, Berg’s ability to create deep, meaningful supporting characters is again wielded with her signature grace. As with so many of her books and the lives she creates within them; you fall in love, learn to dislike, shake your head at, laugh with and care for these people. They are easy to relate to; in some characteristic way or another they are your neighbor, your grandfather, that one teacher you had in junior high. Speaking of junior high, Maddy is in high school and I commend Berg for broaching the subject of bullying to her audience with a spare honesty that is still moving for the reader, without being imposing or cumbersome.
It’s a quick read – it wasn’t so much an I-can’t-put-it-down-kind-of-book – the story just moved forward, beautifully and effortlessly. The prose was ethereal at times, especially when it came to Arthur, who has a way of sharing his thoughts and feelings that is often poetic, floating through time and memories and always a gentlemanly host.
Nestled within the pages of this little tome is a bit of advice or what could be considered an admonishment or even a challenge for some. I plan to take it to heart. I hope you do too.
Then Lucille says, “It’s so embarrassing to be useless.”
“Why, you’re not useless!” Arthur says.
“Yes I am.”
“You’re just going through a hard time!”
“Yes, I am, but also I am useless. I do nothing. I realized this was happening some time ago, everything falling off, but I made do. I had church. I read books, and the paper. I had my garden. And then . . . lights off! All the lights are off now. And I really don’t want to live anymore, Arthur. What is left for me now? I am useless. And so are you!”
Arthur straightens in his chair, indignant. “I’m not useless!”
Arthur rocks for a while. Lucille’s chair has gone still, but Arthur rocks for a while.
“Let me ask you something,” he says, finally.
“Did you ever hear anyone say they wanted to be a writer?”
“Yes, I’ve heard lots of people say that.”
“Everybody wants to be a writer” Arthur says.
He stops his rocking to look over at her. “But what we need are readers. Right? Where would writers be without readers? Who are they going to write for? And actors, what are they without an audience? Actors, painters, dancers, comedians, even just ordinary people doing ordinary things, what are they without an audience of some sort?
“See, that’s what I do. I am the audience. I am the witness. I am the great appreciator, that’s what I do and that’s all I want to do. I worked for a lot of years. I did a lot of things for a lot of years. Now, well, here I am in the rocking chair, and I don’t mind it Lucille, I don’t feel useless. I feel lucky.”
Angelic lives in Southern Missouri with her husband and their two cats and posts sporadically on her blog.
So y’all know that I’m holed up in West Virginia in a gorgeous luxury flat, typing away at a new book. As I won’t be getting much else done these three months, friends and fellow writers have stepped in to cover the Monday book through March. Liz Weir is the first – a longtime friend and magnificent storyteller. Take it away, Liz!
I wonder what American readers will make of this book, gifted to me by my daughter for Christmas?
A sumptuously illustrated, coffee-table sized book, which contains magic within its pages. Inspired by the decision of the Oxford Junior Dictionary to remove 50 ”nature” words from its pages to replace them with words such as “broadband” and “attachment” . It has been recognised that there is a connection between the decline in natural play and children’s wellbeing so for me this is a partial antidote.
In this book Robert MacFarlane decided to explore words from the wild and with illustrator Jackie Morris they have produced a beautifully crafted book which helps young and old alike reconnect with wild experiences. The illustrations in watercolour and goldleaf do perfect justice to the text. It should be pored over rather than read cover to cover at one sitting, containing as it does acrostic “spell” poems intended to be read out loud, stunning images and a richness of language often lost to many of us.
Words like “acorn”, “bramble”, “kingfisher” “heather”, words which roll off the tongue, and yet which can so easily be forgotten. Often we talk and write about conservation but unless we retain the words to describe the beauties of the natural world they can disappear from our conversation.
Apart from the delight of simply exploring its pages I intend to use the book to work with young people during creative writing sessions. While I generally try to encourage them to find the very “best” words when writing poems, Lost Words will provide an added stimulus.
Visually, it is a lovely book, and while the librarian in me might ask where folks will shelve this large tome, I urge people to acquire a copy for the sheer delight of exploring it. The author encourages readers to “seek, find and speak”. Please do!
As one who is very reticent about letting other people choose my books I realise that my daughter knows me very well. What better gift for a storyteller and lover of language, or in my opinion for anyone?
Liz Weir is a storyteller from the Antrim Glens in Northern Ireland. Visit her website.
So here’s my problem…..
I started reading this book, thinking it would be funny, I could review it for Christmas and be timely and relevant and it was short and I’d finish it quickly….
…and I didn’t like it enough to finish it. I didn’t even get to the brain-eating zombies the Angel raised when he got confused by the wishes of the wrong child to have Santa raised from the dead after he’d been whacked in the face with a shovel by a Christmas-tree-stealing do-gooder whose friend wields a broadsword.
That enough about plot summary? The plot could best be described as “smoke pot while watching HBO all night, then write.” Yeah, hilarious. Not.
What’s funny about a bunch of stereotypes slouching toward Bethlehem in an overwritten “ain’t my word use clever” streams of unmerciful-undead never ceasing?
I never read any of Moore’s other books. Tom Robbins kills me, so funny, so kooky, so Lewis Carroll on a good day. Moore, apparently, is meant to be like him.
Still waiting to see that parallel line meet itself….
So I’m sorry to tell you that I have no Monday book because I backed the wrong horse, and didn’t have time to start over.
All I can tell you is, save yourself. If you like character driven plots, well, his characters are as thin as the paper they’re written on. His plot is driven by wild horses running away, and I’m not going to be looking for any more Moores.
Go watch Alias Grace. It’s way better and you can crochet at the same time.
Sorry so many Mondays have slipped past. I have started many books that didn’t make me want to finish them, this past month. And then came REQUIEM, a story so enticing it makes me go to bed early just so I can read.
The book is set in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and focuses on what the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park did to the people it bumped.
I know these people – Jim the local boy who wants to return home and work, the successful man; his wife Nell who wants to follow in the footsteps of her overbearing mother and get the hell outta there to a place with electricity and running water; Silas the contrarian who will be carried off the mountain feet-first, one way or another; the lawyer who turns on his own people and gets over his regret. They sound like stereotypes, but these folk walk, eat, and most definitely talk like real North Carolinians.
The tension between the people who live on (and off of) the land, and the government officials, some clueless, some very clued up indeed, flows under the rest of the action. Actually, this book is less action than scene by scene contacts between people, dialogue sent against lightly descriptive background. I am a sucker for well-drawn characters having pithy, realistic conversations, and this book is that in spades. Not a fan of a lot of description myself, I nevertheless was hooked by the opening scene of the novel, depicting an act of benevolent arson.
The ending will not be given away in a spoiler because I haven’t finished it yet. This is a book to savor. I’m so glad to have found something that restores my faith in Appalachian fiction!
I know, I know, you’re very disappointed in me. But I’m on a crochet deadline, and was looking for Netflix background–less Netflix and chill than Netflix and hook, but there you go.
So I watched Cloud Atlas because the book by David Mitchell had intrigued me but we sold it before I could rad it. And three hours of movie lets one get a powerful lot of yarn moved into correct position.
The thing about this movie is it was able to add something the book wasn’t: jokes about who was playing what part.
For those unfamiliar, Cloud Atlas is pretty much based on the idea that no matter what century it is, people are behaving pretty much the same. There are good guys, bad guys, hustlers and altruists, and it all moves around in a big circle.
The funniest part is, the hunk hero from 2143 or so is the matron of an evil nursing home from 2012. That part cracked me up. Although the fact that “soylent green is people” was a funny line in 2012 and a real thing about food in 2143 was a bit sobering.
Cloud Atlas runs from the 1800s, when on ships running from Jamaica a bad guy is trying to poison a nice guy who saves another nice guy from getting beaten to death, through the 1970s when corruption in the oil industry is getting nice people killed, past 2012 when it’s the publishing industry and nursing homes that get the scrutiny, into ethical futurist questions in 2100 and 2300 (after the fall a few winters, if that tells you anything) when Earth is back to barbarism. If you don’t take it too seriously, it’s a good film. If you start to ask questions about how people know certain things or can gain access to certain places, forget it. This is a shallow, bright ride.
But it is a ride with some breadth, as the 2100s are shoot-em-up thriller, the 1970s are detective novel, 2012 centers around money, and 2300s is eat or be eaten with a few surprises thrown in. It was as bright and breezy as the afghan I was crocheting while watching, and less knotty if one didn’t ask too many questions.
For escapism or background noise, Cloud Atlas works well. For serious thought fodder, one doesn’t need two hours and 51 minutes of star-studded cast to know that everyone is pretty much after something, for good or ill, and that we recycle stock characters in the parade of our life. History repeats itself because we don’t learn the lesson the first time. Just ask Charlottesville.