Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"What's My Name, Fool?"*

It's always exciting for a bookseller when books arrive in the store that we've already read in advance and enjoyed. This week I had that excitement tripled. Two novels and a one book of nonfiction that I've been waiting a long time for. The novels really could not be more different from one another in tone, focus and style. But what joins them, in my mind, is a very solid sense of place. "All The Living" is a first novel that follows a young woman, Aloma, to her husband's family farm in rural Kentucky. His parents have recently died in an auto accident and the book traces the couple as they try to come to terms with a dying way of life(tobacco farming), a dying town and a family in disrepair. But it isn't all woe--Morgan's writing is assured and measured and filled with beauty. The second book, Chris Cleave's "Little Bee" is a book that indy booksellers have been chattering about for months now. Due to the nature of the story I can't really talk about it too much without giving away important details and storylines. I can promise it is one of those books you want to read without the bother of phone calls or going to work or washing the dishes. It truly is a tour de force.

The last book is one I was pretty hesitant to even look at. Dave Cullen's "Columbine" takes a look at the Colorado school shooting from 1999. I thought it would be voyeuristic and too much like a cheesy newspaper or magazine article. I was wrong on all fronts. Cullen spent 10 years researching this event--looking at the how's and why's and what could have been's. He's done an amazing job weaving together the stories of families affected by the deaths or serious injuries to their children along with some serious looks into the lives of the two killers. America's obsession with firearms and our bizarre 24/7 media culture also get some examination. In the end the reader is still left with a lot of questions. Yet some answers are given and it is an example of journalism at its finest--well-researched rather than the quick point. Emotional without being sappy. Pointing towards some issues that we, as a country, need to deal with. Or else continue to face events as heartbreaking and scary as Columbine all over again.

Also, I'm just sending out our April e-mail newsletter with a focus on poetry as it is National Poetry month. Too many people are scared of this fine form. I'm going to make it a point to post some fun and accesible poems during the month. Let a little poetry into your life this month.

*That is what Muhammad Ali once yelled at Floyd Patterson during a fight when Patterson had kept calling him Cassius Clay. Happy April Fool's.

1 comment:

  1. I have heard wonderful things about Little the cover too. I will also look into the Columbine book. I do tend to stay away from books I think sensationalize tragedies, but really appreciate the tasteful ones, where I can learn something about what went wrong (i.e. The Looming Tower).