Foreign Agent by Brad Thor; 2016; $27.99; 335 pages; Emily Bestler Books, New York, NY; 978-1-47678935-4; checked out from Multnomah County Library, North Portland; 7/5/16-7/8/16
Why did I read this? Because I have read every other book in the series and enjoyed them.
A covert ops team from the United States is overrun and brutalized by a terrorist organization, then the Secretary of State is brutally murdered by the same organization. The terrorist then use social media and marketing to publicize what they have done. It seems the CIA has a mole, so Scott Harvath is tasked with a two pronged investigation track down the lead terrorist and find his source. Harvath travels all over the globe with assistance from some other operatives, some indigenous peoples and a team at CIA headquarters to make things better for the United States.
End Of Watch by Stephen King; 2016; $30.00; 432 pages; Scribner, New York, NY; 978-1-5011-2974-2; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Kenton; 7/2/16-7/5/16
Why did I read this? Because Stephen King is a master storyteller and this is the third book in a trilogy in which I had already read the first two books. I enjoyed them so I thought I would continue.
End of Watch is the sequel to Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers which were unusual for Mr. King as there was not supernatural phenomena in them. They were more or less police procedural’s involving one miscreant as Bill Hodges followed the clues to track down the person responsible. Due to a Traumtic Brain Injury the perpetrator is now in a vegetative state in a local hospital. However he has turned inward and thanks to a couple of contributing factors has learned how to control others and have them do what he wants. The majority of the police refuse to truly follow the evidence and just want to go with the easiest explanation which has nothing to do with the person laying in a coma at the hospital. It is up to our main characters Bill, Jerome and Holly to figure things out and make them right no matter how outlandish they seem.
The Light of the World, a memoir by Elizabeth Alexander; 2015; $26.00; 209 pages; Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY; 978-1-4555-9987-5; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Midland; 6/30/16-7/2/16
Elizabeth Alexander was married to Ficre Ghebreyesus until his death just before his fiftieth birthday. Ficre was a refugee from Eritrea who was a painter, married to Elizabeth Alexander, a poet. The married, meshed their lives and had two sons. This is Elizabeth’s memoir of their sixteen years together. It is very easy to picture their relationship and life together as she uses beautiful and lush language to describe their life and love. I was moved several times as I read this.
Why did I read this? As with the previous book and many others I have read recently were on a list that was titled, something like, Books that I wish my white teachers in the hood would read.
What did I learn? This reinforces my recent realization that I really like to read prose written by poets. They have such a grasp of the language that it enables to paint with words in their prose.
Evicted, Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond; 201prev6; $28.00; 418 pages; Crown Publishers, New York, NY; 978-0-553-44743-9; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Rockwood, 6/22/16-6/30/16
Matthew Desmond lived with people who were living in poverty in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as they tried to find or keep a home. He followed several different families and also several single people. He walked alongside them as they were forced from the places they lived for a wide variety of reasons. He also followed several landlords and found that poverty and eviction go hand in hand and that one perpetuates the other. It is not just the single men and women that we commonly see on the streets, but families, young, the disabled and the elderly that fight poverty and eviction. A disproportionate number of the evictees are minorities and women. The reasons for eviction are as numerous as the people evicted, but the deck is stacked against the tenants in many ways.
Did I learn anything? Oh my goodness, I learned so much. I did not know how prevalent evictions were, and that they were part of the cycle that perpetuates poverty.
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen; 2015; $26.00; 371 pages; Grove Press, New York, NY; 978-0-8021-rec2345-9; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Gregory Heights; 6/8/16-6/17/16
Why did I read this? I am trying to read all of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize winners and this is the winner for fiction.
The main character is a communist spy who works on the staff of a South Vietnamese General. The story begins at the fall of Saigon in April 1975 and continues as the General, his family, staff and some friends are relocated to Southern California. There the General opens a liquor store, his wife a Pho restaurant and begins to plan for an army to return to Vietnam and overthrow the regime. The main character is half French and half Vietnamese and attended college in Southern California, and tends to see both sides of many things. He continues to report on the General’s activities to his communist handler, he also gets recruited to act as an adviser for a movie about the war, it bears an amazing resemblance to a movie starring Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando. He returns to Vietnam to overthrow the regime (wink, wink) and to protect a friend. He is captured and put in a reeducation camp and forced to write a confession, which it turns out is what we have been reading.
Grade-A Nguyen’s writing style reminds me of Pat Conroy. This is a story filled with drama, pathos and friendship. Be warned there a couple of very graphic scenes, not just of battles but of interrogations.