The Kiss by Kathryn Harrison ****
A very disturbing memoir about an incestuous relationship between a father and a daughter. In spite of this disturbing premise, this book is beautiful written an neither sensationalizes nor descends into a superficial rant on victimization. The author accepts full responsibility for her actions and gives us a view into the causes psychological pathologies that she eventually overcome.
That being said, the father in this story gradually reveals himself to be the worst kind of sociopath, manipulating and controlling his daughter to a point beyond which forgiveness and reconciliation are impossible.
Almost by Elizabeth Benedict ****
Sophy Chase, recovering alcoholic, returns to Swansea Island after the mysterious death of her estranged husband, Will. No one is quite sure how to deal with her, not Will’s family, the islanders, or even Sophy herself.
This novel is very-well plotted and once started, it’s hard to put it down until you’ve finished. Sophy struggles to discover the cause of Will’s death, the fate of the dog they shared, and ultimately a way to handle the grief of a sudden unexpected loss. We see her struggling and reaching the end of her tether.
This book is beautifully and sensitively written and it’s emotional impact sneaks up on you, but when it does it resonates very deeply.
“But the next year is a long way off, and since Will died, I have been afflicted with that common response to death, carpe diem. Until it happens to you, you have no idea what form it will take, which days you’ll want to seize and which you’d rather do without. And of course, it’s a metaphor; you can’t clutch a day the way you can an umbrella, a steering wheel, a book. The saying implores you to seize your pleasure, seize the pleasures of the world while they are still available to you.”
No Resting Place by Eugene Mirabelli *****
It’s the summer of 1969 and the world seems to be coming apart. Marco and Marianne Falconieri are trying to find their way through the chaos while coping with Marianne’s miscarriage, Marco’s nervous breakdown, and his affair with a young, free-spirited coed. Neither old enough to be that period’s “older generation,” or young enough to be active participants, they embark on a road trip to save their marriage. Along the way their peers marriages are disintegrating, leaving them with nowhere to turn but each other.
This is one of the finest novels I have ever read and has been a major influence on my own work. Even now, it is not just a nostalgia trip back to the summer of ’69 — although if that’s what you’re looking for it might also work for you — but a deeply intimate exploration of how love can be passionate, how it can be fleeting, and how it can be enduring.
As always, Mirabelli’s writing is tender when it needs to be, bold when it needs to be and always graceful.
The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Friedman *
The famous globetrotting rube flies to India, plays golf with a high-tech sweatshop executive, and has an epiphany in the form of a nonsensical metaphor. “The playing field is level” does not translate into “The World is Flat.”
The torturous prose and incoherent, overwrought analogies aside, his entire premise is bogus. The playing field is not, and never was, level.
When will the jig be up for this self-proclaimed deep thinker? To paraphrase Dorothy Parker, “This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”
That’s exactly what I did.
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