I do have some writing projects going on (really, I do), but I’m not prepared to share them today. Since, however, I want to keep my blog afloat, I’m adding some abbreviated book reviews on three recently read books.
The Last of the Breed, Louis L’Amour
A book doesn’t have to be classified as literary fiction to be thoroughly enjoyable, and this adventure-filled novel kept me reading late into the night.
An American, Major Joe Makatozi, is captured and imprisoned in Russia on the order of Colonel Arkady Zamatev. Before any questioning and possible torture could begin in earnest, however, Makatozi (Joe Mack) escapes from prison by catapulting himself over the wall with a pole. For months, he survives hunger, extreme cold, and hard physical trials as he literally plays hide and seek with his would-be captors. Major Joe is part Sioux Indian, and during his lonely trek towards freedom, the knowledge of his heritage gives him strength.
The novel is quite educational. Among other things, I now know more about the rivers, mountains, and towns of Russia and Siberia. It was interesting to read of American culture told from the perspective of Joe Mack as he talked to the Baronas; in fact, these passages were great reminders of how fortunate we are to go and do and have. Like me, most Americans are soft, and we need reminders of the courage and toughness of the Joe Macks in the world.
Life Without Water, Nancy Peacock
I enjoyed everything about this delightful little book, including the grey green cover and its snapshot of a huge home nestled beneath trees and two moons. A van is parked in the front yard, symbolic of the era (late 60’s and early 70’s) and of the characters’ vagabond lives.
Sara’s brother Jimmie is killed in Vietnam, thus changing the course of her life. Depressed and needy, she meets Sol at a party, a man who’s looking for the right person to be the mother of his child. Cedar is the child, and the story is told from her perspective.
Before Cedar’s birth, Sol and Sara find a three-story abandoned house in North Carolina, and they live there for four years. It’s the center of Sol’s drug operation and was dubbed Two Moons. Eventually Sara tires of Sol’s behavior, and one day she and Sara escape in the van. In Arizona, she meets Daniel, a man who invites them to live with him in his girlfriend’s house while she’s away for three months. When Sara and Cedar leave, he leaves with them, and back they go to Two Moons where other people, including Baby Roo and Topaz, enter their lives in a major way.
Through her scene descriptions, superb dialogue, and character sketches, the author reminds us of several truths, including Robert Frost’s “It goes on” response to a query about what he’d learned about life. Peacock also reminds the reader that one event can change the direction of one’s life and that people and their memories affect us even after they’re gone.
If you want to read a book that engages all your senses and touches your heart, sometimes in uncomfortable ways, read this book.
The End of the Pier, Martha Grimes
Rarely do I read a book in three days. This one, I did. A murder mystery with numerous psychological undertones, including a depressed mother suffering empty nest syndrome, the novel is a real page-turner.
Although I’m usually pretty good at figuring out whodunits, this one was a puzzler. The protagonist, Maud Chadwick, is a depressed, college-educated waitress at a small town diner who spends her nights sitting at the end of a pier watching the lively parties taking place across the lake. The local sheriff joins her each evening, and their dialogue reveals much of not only their personalities, but also those of the townspeople.
No spoilers except to say I never did figure out who the bad guy was. Read it and see if you do.
They say good readers make good writers, and I’m doing my fair share of reading this summer. What about you?