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Posts Tagged ‘Miriam Toews’

So a very “late in the calendar year” Labor Day has come and gone, most students have returned to the classroom (though some college kids on quarter systems are still waiting for classes to resume), work has turned serious again after those long summer days, and, the Book Jam is back from our annual reading hiatus with two of our favorites from those long summer days.

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9780525429142Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal (2015) – Possibly my favorite book of the summer, this quirky, original, and funny read explores raw talent, choices, and chance outcomes. Eva Thorwald is the central character of this novel, but we mostly get to know her through the observations of others. In this way, “Kitchens” is a lot like Olive Kitteridge, but the setting of the “great” midwest lend it a very different tone and flavor. We meet Eva as an infant and travel with her, mostly through the eyes of others, through the first thirty years of her life. She has a once-in-a-lifetime palate, is a gifted chef, and her talent is affected and developed by an interesting cast of characters we meet along the way. There are even recipes included in this smart, laugh-out-loud book — but it is about so much more than food. The author, a native of Minnesota,  is a keen observer and is gifted at capturing our culture and delivering it back to us whether it be on a plate of Walleye or on a tray of good old fashioned church peanut butter bars. Read it and eat. ~ Lisa Cadow

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (2014) – This could be my favorite book from 2015 (so far). Now, how to effectively describe it? The plot involves Elf, a world-reknowned concert pianist, and the effects her repeated suicide attempts have on her family, most specifically her sister and mom. Perhaps more importantly it is a love letter to a sister. It is an attempt to understand why some people end their lives in suicide. It is an example of compassion and understanding and love. And, it is all wrapped up in a superb prose and a fabulous tale set in Canada. Please pick this up and read. (Thank you Norwich Bookseller extraordinaire Carin Pratt for insisting over and over again that I read this novel. I finally did, and I am so so grateful for your recommendation. ) ~ Lisa Christie

This post is dedicated to the memory of Ian Gemery. May he rest in love, and may the loved ones he left behind each find their own peace.

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