Finley Public Library

  Book Reviews   | |

February 09, 2015

At times when I am reading books to review and while I am writing the review, I wonder about the author and why they wrote the story and/or why they wrote their novel the way they did.  I think that knowing a bit about that helps the reader better understand the book.  For example, if you are the least bit aware of what the cartoons in the New Yorker magazine are like, you will better understand what you might be getting into by reading Peckham's Marbles since author DeVries worked there for more than forty years. To know that Armstrong was raised in Virginia and that his family had Black friends that would come to the house and tell their stories might better explain how he came to understand the plight of the southern share-cropper Black man.  To know that he was an English teacher for over fifty years would help explain why Sounder is only 116 pages.  To know that he was a Bible reader from a young age and understood that only the words important to the story were included might better explain the 116 pages.  Reading stories for me is entertainment, although I understand that I must also make sure that I read a variety of books for the reviews.  However, books for me open an entire new world , a new way of thinking about something, a solving of a problem that might have been bugging me.  Writing the reviews allows me to check out some of these things and to get more out of the book.  I hope it does for you as well.  You really do need to come in and check us out!
Here's a couple reviews:

Sounder by William H. Armstrong.  (HC/RP)  (YA) (1969)  Sounder is a Classic on so many levels:  1.  on the surface for how hard life was for the poor--and especially poor Blacks--even after emancipation; 2.  a growing up story for a child--a mean growing up with a loss of hopes and dreams; 3.  as an example of faith and how faith sustains; 4.  as a lesson in living in fear which becomes hate.  One could go on with many more thoughts concerning the book, but YOU need to read it.  Many of us have read it in our youth (though I had not), but with a book like this it, because it speaks so clearly to today, reading Sounder should be on everyone's list of "To Read"  books.  At 116 pages, it is not to be missed.  The boy's parents both worked for the "big house", his mother in the house doing laundry and his father in the fields.  The man and the boy hunted with their dog, Sounder, getting opossum and raccoons to eat and sell the skins.  The woman shelled two pounds of scavenged walnuts each night so that she could sell them the next day at the store and buy some basic food supplies.  When events led to the family needing food and there was none and no money available, the man did what any man might do and stole two hens.  The book chronicles the life of the family after this event.  It is a sad book, but also a book of surviving--physically and mentally--in severe situations.  Highly recommended.
Peckham's Marbles by Peter De Vries.  (HC/RP) (1986)  If you like words, like words that may be new to you, like satire, like seriously silly situations and conversations, then you might like this book.  Peter De Vries, the author, worked at the "New Yorker" magazine for forth-three years as an editor, writer and "touching up" cartoon captions.  A prolific writer of many genres including poetry, short stories and essays, this book is the last of DeVries twenty-three novels.  Opening at a rest home called the Dappled Shade where Earl Peckham is recovering from hepatitis, the reader finds  Peckham looking for a wife with money and the owner, Mrs. DelBelly, seems to fit his needs, but he cannot manage to fit hers.  He skittles around from pillar to post driving from New York City to Iowa and Nebraska trying to find out if the book he wrote--which sold only three copies to book stores--has been purchased by the public.  On meeting with an author whose writing style he abhors, he enters into a three year relationship during which he completely revamps her writing style.  I read most of this book aloud (in the car to Howie) which was helpful because the reader really does need to take time over the words and remarks.  Some are "laugh out loud" funny, but for the most part they just leave you shaking your head at their cleverness AND veracity.  Reread the first sentence above before checking out this book!

Visit our Facebook Page

Copyright 2014 Finley Public Library
Finley, North Dakota

Contact us:

Website designed by Christine Paulsen