Since coming home from the ICA Literature Fellowship panel April 10th, I’ve been reading up a storm – though I haven’t been writing about it. During that time, I’ve had a few computer issues, some ongoing health concerns, and a trip to Philadelphia to capture my attention. OK, time to catch up!
The Worst Hard Time, by Tim Egan of The New York Times, was an extremely worthy piece of non-fiction. Subtitled The untold story of those who survived the Great American Dust Bowl, this deservedly won the National Book Award. It brought to life — vividly — what my parents endured as teenagers growing up in Eastern Kansas. They never talked about it, so I was glad to finally understand how that terrible time shaped them….
Mostly, though, I’ve been devouring novels:
* The Glass Room by Simon Mawer; my friend Janna Rankin told me to add it to my “must-read” list — you should, too;
* the New York trilogy by Beverly Swerling (City of Dreams, City of Glory, and City of God), which covers several families’ history during much of the two centuries between the time when Manhattan was still Nieuw Amsterdam and the Civil War; now I want to read Shadowbrook, the fourth book in the history which covers the Revolutionary War, but isn’t set in New York City;
* Sheer Abandon by Penny Vicenzi, another pot-boiler saga set in London I picked up for a quarter at the thrift store; and
* Duchess of Aquitaine by Margaret Ball, which explores the life of Eleanor starting at age 15, covering her life as the unhappy wife of Louis VII of France, prior to marrying Henry Plantaganet — perhaps the start of another burst of books about the lives of the Kings and Queens of England?
After all that, it seemed like I should get back to some good non-fiction, so right now I’m reading Ghosts of the Pioneers by Twain Braden, June’s book-club book, which is the story of a family following the Oregon Trail experience of a particular group of pioneers who crossed the country in 1844. I’ve also been doing a chapter or so a night of Passings: Death, Dying and Unexplained Phenomena, by my friend Carole Travis Henikoff of Alta, which is striking many chords for me in this still-wintry spring.
If you’re not sure about this last comment — well, this is our garden hose on the back porch — I just took the photo about five minutes ago!