New fiction at the Truckee Library
Special to the Sierra Sun
Sometimes it takes a long time to write a novel. Ron Carlson, prolific short story writer, last published a novel 23 years ago. His new book, set on a river bluff in southern Idaho where three men are building a giant ramp for an Evel Kneivel-style stunt, is a spare, powerful read about men at work.
Darwin Gallegos, foreman of the crew, is grieving his wife’s recent death. Arthur Key, the technical wizard, is running from his Hollywood past and blaming himself for his brother’s death on a movie set. Ronnie Panelli, a punk kid in between juvie and jail, alternately swaggers and charms. He sends his pay to his mother, knowing she will never believe he earned it honestly.
Over the summer, the three men build the ramp and rebuild themselves. There is nothing sentimental here, and all does not go well. But there is a lot of precise description of digging postholes, damaging and repairing equipment, starting and ending a work day and worksite cooking. Every detail leads somewhere ” toward the redemptive power of work.
From the author of “Snow Mountain Passage”comes a magical story about Hawaiians, Native Americans and early settlers in California. Dan Brody, a young Bay Area talk show host, receives an on-air call from a woman who claims she might be his grandmother. Off air, she spins him a tale of John Sutter’s Hawaiians marrying local Indians, of one daughter from such a union becoming the consort of the last Hawaiian king, David Kalakaua, and of a mysterious lost wax cylinder which recorded the king’s last words.
Of course, the search for the missing cylinder is on. The narration shifts between Dan’s present and his great-grandmother, Nani Kaela’s journals. The story moves from Sacramento to San Francisco and Hawaii and back. Nineteenth century Hawaii and California emerge in rich language and elaborate detail. James Houston is a master of historical fiction.
This book made NPR book critic Maureen Corrigan cry; it made John Updike shake his head. Surely book clubs that read and loved “Bel Canto” will want to add “Run” to their reading lists.
From Ireland to Boston, a statue of the Virgin Mary has been passed from mother to daughter for generations. Widower Bernard Doyle, a former Boston mayor who has only sons, refuses to relinquish the icon to his dead wife’s sisters, but sets it to watch over his two adopted African-American sons, Tip and Teddy. On a snowy night, older son Sullivan returns from Africa in a bit of trouble and Kenya, an 11-year-old African-American, joins the Doyle household when her mother saves Tip from a car-pedestrian collision.
In the space of a night and a day, the lives of these people and the fate of the icon intermingle, giving us conflicts, tragedy and hope for transcendence over loss. Patchett is a lyrical, not a cynical, writer.
“She let herself float forward,” she writes of Kenya, “every step a leap, her legs stretching out like scissors, opened wide. . . . Gravity did not apply to her.”
Loosen gravity’s hold yourself by exploring fiction at the Truckee Library.
Monday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Tuesday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Wednesday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Thursday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
The book for the next meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Library is ‘Three Cups of Tea’ by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. On Tuesday, Dec. 18, the group will discuss Eliazabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat, Pray. Love.” Participants at the book group meeting will receive a coupon for 15 percent off a one-time book purchase at the Bookshelf at Hooligan Rocks. Everyone is welcome.
Now through February, 2008 for ages 5 and up
Sign up anytime at the Library
Note: Toddlertime and Babes in Bookland are on hiatus until the New Year.
Thursdays at 11:15 a.m.. For ages 3-6 years
Stories, songs, and fingerplays in Spanish and English
When school is in session: Fridays at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., for ages 3-5 years
“Open to All: What the Library Means to Me,” an anthology of library memories by residents of Nevada County. Proceeds will go toward the purchase of books for the Nevada County library branches.
Portraits by Truckee artist Raphael Jolly
Over the fireplace: “The Neighborhood,” painting by Carole Sesko
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