From grandpa to me

The Hour of Lead by Bruce Holbert; 2014; $25.00; 307 pages; Counterpoint, Berkeley, CA; 978-1-61902-292-8; Fiction; provided by the authors agent for review; 6/19/14-6/22/14

In a story that begins in 1918 and goes until the late 50, Bruce Holbert gives life to three people in Washington states Palouse country.  These aren’t characters these are fully formed people we come to know and care about.  Each of them is a misfit in some way, due to heartache, upbringing or some character defect or a combination of all three.  Matt Lawson suffers a loss in eighth grade that eats at him the rest of his life, Wendy suffers a heartache at the hands of Matt and Lucky Jefferson was brought up with a mentally unstable Mother and each of these affected the others in some way.  Each of them does penance in their own way,  as their lives intersect multiple times in the 40 years the book traverses.  As one way of life wanes and another comes to prominence each of the people must find a way to navigate that change.  As in life the only constant in life is change.

Did I like it?  Like Dancing to Almendra this book is beautifully and wonderfully written.  It too is achingly beautiful.  Each sentence is carefully constructed to ensure maximum effectiveness.  Bruce Holbert is an author that could bring a random selection of words to beautiful life if you gave him a couple of days.


What is with the title of the review?  The story starts when my grandfathers were 10 and ends around the time I was born, 40 years later.


if your book is based on a Steinbeck quote, it had better be good.

Lonesome Animals by Bruce Holbert; 2012; $24.00; 268 pages; Counterpoint, Berkeley, CA.; 978-1-58243-8061-1; Checked out from the Multnomah County Library, Gregory Heights; 9/27-9/30

Why did I pick this up?  Bruce Holbert is an author that I hope to meet at Wordstock

What is the story?  During the building of the Grand Coulee Dam, there is a serial killer in the area.  Former Sheriff Strawl is a suspect and an investigator into the killings.  This is at the end of the wild, wild west and there is  a mixing of the wild west and the new, cars, etc.  Strawl tells us his story throughout the book, so that we can come to appreciate how things are changing and what has brought each of the characters in the story to where they are today.

Did I like it?  Yes, when you evoke John Steinbeck with your title and opening epigraph, you have set yourself up for an uphill battle.  Bruce Holbert charges right up the hill and takes it with gusto.


What is with the title of the review?  One of the epigraphs at  the beginning of the book is “We are lonesome animals.  We spend all of our life trying to be less lonesome. And one of our ancient methods is to tell a story.”  John Steinbeck  John Steinbeck is one of my all time favorite writers and since the title of the book comes from this quote and this quote is the opening epigraph, Mr. Holbert, challenged me to like the book and I did.