The War in fiction, part 1: Europe

beardless.jpgA War is not one story, but many.

Here is the first of three lists of fiction that views the war through many eyes, reflecting the diverse experiences of civilians and soldiers around the world whose lives were drawn into the Second World War.

  • Articles of War by Nick Arvin. Sent to Normandy in 1944, Iowa farm boy George ‘Heck’ Tilson’s all-too-human response to the war’s perilous chaos – to run away – will lead him through the fire towards an unforeseen and terrible duty.
  • Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris. Now sixty and a widow, Framboise Dartigen returns to her childhood village in France, to uncover painful secrets in her family’s past, and her mother’s curious relationship with the town’s German occupiers.
  • The Stalin Front by Gert Ledig. Eastern front veteran Ledig fully conveys the nightmarish enormity of total war in this gut-wrenching novel of the hell unleashed on earth when Hitler Continue reading “The War in fiction, part 1: Europe”

Nonfiction book discussions

ellis.jpgBook groups may occasionally select a biography or a nonfiction title to discuss, but few — except the Nonfiction Book Group here at the Library — are devoted to exclusively reading and discussion nonfiction titles. New members are always welcome! The group meets on the third Tuesday of each month at noon on the 8th Level of the Central Library. We read and discuss non-fiction books with a strong focus on biography.  Check out our upcoming selections: 

March 18His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph Ellis
April 15: My Invented Country by Isabelle Allende
May 20: Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough
June 17: Truth and Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
July 15:  Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
August 19:  Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy.

Looking for a good read?

Of course you are!  But the problem is, how to sort through the plethora of reading lists and suggestions?  Wouldn’t it be cool if someone — someone trustworthy — could poll award winning novelists, historians, poets, critics and biographers and then compile the top vote-getters into a tidy list?  Plus, it would be nice if you could get descriptions and reviews for each book, rather than just a list of titles that you have to take on faith.  

The good news is that Continue reading “Looking for a good read?”

Big Sky best bet

Montana 1948 by Larry Watson.

Montana 1948We librarians have certain prized-yet-little-known titles that we return to again and again when suggesting books to readers. Over the years I have recommended Montana, 1948 so many times to readers that I felt the need to go back and give it another read, just to make sure I still knew what I was talking about. I do. The novella is that perfect example of suspenseful mainstream fiction, making it the perfect prescription for literary readers feeling a bit bored with navel-gazing, and crime readers feeling a bit stale from too much formula. Far more often than one would expect this little 1993 title has come up when I’m talking with readers about books that they’re really loved. The book is tightly constructed and doesn’t really allow me to relate much plot, as the discoveries are paced so well. Through the wistful voice of a grown man looking back at his Western childhood that will seem familiar to fans of Willa Cather’s My Antonia or Conrad Richter’s The Sea of Grass, we gradually learn of the rivaly of the Hayden brothers, one a war hero and doctor, the other a sheriff. Soon a shameful secret is revealed, and sets in motion an unavoidable conflict between the two men, with unforeseen consequences. “A good book is twice as good if it is short,” said Balthasar Gracian. Truer words were never spoke.