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Posts Tagged ‘Elinor Lipman’

 Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling (2012) – The death of a town councilman unearths dysfunctional town politics, not-at-all-functioning public housing complexes, turned off teenagers engaging in unsafe activities, corrupt politicians, and townspeople looking out only for themselves.  And despite the fact plot is often bleak, her characters are memorable and the messages embedded throughout this novel resonate during this election season.  Ms. Rowling’s first forray into adult literature is all about muggles, and we know it was panned by many critics, but this book does make you think.

Primary Colors: A novel of politics by Anonymous, later revealed to be Joe Klein (2006)- A fun romp through 1990s politics. Yes, the campaign greatly resembles Bill Clinton’s, but what is wrong with that? Have fun laughing at, or possibly with, a fictional look at presidential campaigns.

From the policy makers, because sometimes you just need the numbers

The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the next revolution for women work and familyby Madeleine Kunin (2012) - We should first say that we are fans of our former governor, Ms. Kunin. Her career path, poise, thoughtfulness, compassion and intelligence are inspiring.  In her latest book, she argues that empowering women to succeed in their work is good for everyone – men, women and children.  She then discusses what it will take for this vision to occur.  Whether you agree with her politics or not, this book provides important fodder for intelligent discussions. (At the very least we recommend you read her short introduction.)

A People’s Guide to the Federal Budget by the National Priorities Project  (2012) – An accessible, amply illustrated look at the complications of our national budget. To be truly informed voters we should all know a little something about our budget and the national priorities project has made that task a bit more palatable.  Perfect for your favorite wonk.


From the satirists, because sometimes you just need to laugh

 Tweet Land of Liberty:Irreverent rhymes from our political circus by Elinor Lipman (2012) – One of our favorite humorous novelists, Elinor Lipman, has produced daily poetic tweets about the 2012 election for quite some time.  Recently, someone was smart enough to gather them in a book.  This collection contains many tweets that are hilarious and most are cleverly embedded in actual headlines about the various campaigns. Enjoy revisiting the work of Michele Bachman, Rick Perry, Herman Cain and many others.

 The Snark Handbook: politics and government edition. Gridlock, red-tape and other insults to we the people by Lawrence Dorfman (2012). This little book has quotes by politicians about politics, by politicians about other politicians, by people you have never heard of about politics and politicians, all presented in a lovely little book that will leave you smiling and sometimes a bit sad, but ideally comforted by the fact that politicians and politics have said and done nasty things for years, not just today and somehow we have survived as a nation.

 America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t by Stephen Colbert (2012) – The Colbert Show team returns with a parody of elections.  Yes, this book employs
the egotistical voice of “Stephen Colbert” to inform readers.  And if you are not a fan of that voice, you will probably not be a fan of this book.  But this book offers an interesting take on how our country is “Americeptional” in a wide range of subjects: healthcare,
Wall Street, energy, and elections. Through it all, there are gags to make you smile (even if only a little bit) no matter what your political bent.

Disclaimer – Lisa Cadow wanted to make sure our readers know that she relied on Lisa Christie to screen the books for this post.  So please don’t ask her for her take on the Federal Budget any time soon. She still has a few pages to go on that selection.

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Listen Now Stories for Old Men Waiting  or download http://www.box.net/files#/files/0/f/0/1/f_732747352.

The fact that 1) Lisa LC picked up and enjoyed Rules for Old Men Waiting, and that 2) we both have recently read and loved Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand  by Helen Simonson led us to a discussion of what we see as an emerging trend in books: those in which men are reflecting upon their lives and, well let’s face it, are doing so as they wait to die -ahem, we mean living out what’s left of their golden years!

So, since we love a challenge, we spent this BookJam attempting to paint an upbeat yet truthful picture of these books while actually discussing narrators who are “waiting to die.”  The books we chose to include are:

Rules for Old Men Waiting by Peter Pouncey

This novel shows us an 80-year-old man who loved his wife and is passionately missing her since she died.  The plot finds him waiting to die so that he may join her again.  Lisa LC says it is beautifully written and completely atmospheric – you will tremendously enjoy the time you spend in the novel’s Cape Cod setting. And you enjoy the time you spend with the man while he waits.

Old Filth by  Jane Gardam

“Failed in London try Hong Kong – FILTH” is a description attached to the main character in this novel – Sir Edward Feathers, a barrister who has divided his life between Great Britain and Asia.  The big question for the reader as you learn about his life is -does this nickname actually apply to Sir Feathers? We both enjoyed the humor, the wit, the knowledge gained from Old Filth as he looks back on his life as a barrister and his loveless (unlike in Rules for Old Men Waiting) marriage.  As the novel progresses, it becomes increasingly apparent that this marriage was to a woman, now dead, whom he did not truly know at all.  The cause for all this reflection?  Well, his life’s rival moves next door to the secluded home Old Filth chose for an uneventful retirement.

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson - The randomness of neighbors jump starts the reflections in this novel as well (See Old Filth above).  When the brother of a childhood friend moves next door to Trond Sander, a man dwelling in self-imposed exile on the edge of Norway, it causes Trond to think back on a day in his childhood where Trond and the childhood friend chose to spend the day stealing horses.  The entire book is beautiful, but bleak.   It also has you questioning what decisions you have made that will become the point (apparent only in retrospect of course) that your life turned.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss – Lisa LC describes this novel as “full of energy and youth” with writing that is “unusual and brilliant”.  Do we need to say any more to get you to read this book after that?   In case we do, here is a bit about the plot.  This book is about a book – a long-lost book that  reappears and connects an old man  – Leo Gursky - searching for his son and a girl seeking a cure for her widowed mother’s loneliness.  In the present, Gursky is merely surviving, tapping his radiator every day to let his upstairs neighbor know he’s still alive. But years ago, in the Polish village where he was born, Leo fell in love and wrote a book. This book lives on in the life of the girl of this novel.  Read it for details of how these stories connect.

To help those of you who made it through the melancholy and would now just like a book that makes you laugh, we both recommend Family Man  by Elinor Lipman.

The narrator – Henry Archer, a divorced gay man – in this novel has seen fewer years than the men in the books discussed above, but is never the less reviewing his life.  And yes, again the review is instigated by a change in neighbor. (Maybe this podcast should be titled Old Men and Their New Neighbors.)  In this case, his long-lost step daughter moves in with him rekindling a relationship he loved long ago and causing him to reflect on many of his decisions and past loves. If you like screwball comedies, you will enjoy this book. And, if by chance you love Manhattan, you will like the fact that NYC comes across as a character in the Family Man.

We also briefly mentioned Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer as part of the discussion of The History Of Love.

Hmmm Maybe this podcast will inspire some Father’s Day reading/gifts.

Happy Reading!

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LISTEN NOW to “Books That Make Us Laugh”  or download the podcast at http://www.box.net/shared/gxbfpuiysy

A very funny walk

In the “Books That Make Us Laugh” jamcast Lisa and Lisa share some books that make us chuckle, or at least smile, every time. However, we each interpret this topic a bit differently. Lisa LC chose books that made her smile, not necessarily laugh out loud. J Lisa C chose the laugh-out-loud types. Our choices are:

Lisa LC - The Family Man  by Elinor Lipman,  A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson, and  The Dud Avocado a little known work by Elaine Dundy.

J Lisa C - Anything recorded byDavid SedarisA Walk in the Woods
 and Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town in America
by Bill Bryson, Frindle, The Landry News
and No Talking all by Andrew Clements, also good as audio books. 

Recorded January 2010.

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