different styles

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann; 2013; $27.00; 300 pages; Random House, New York, NY; 978-1-4002-6959-0;  checked out from Multnomah County Library, Hillsdale; 9/13-9/19

Why did I pick this up?  The author is scheduled to be at Wordstock and it interested me.

What is the story?  Well, it depends how you want to look at it.  It is either the story of four men, John Alcock and Arthur Brown, Frederick Douglass and Senator George Mitchell or it is the story of one family.  It is either the story of the four men who are connected by the family, or it is the story of the family connected by the four men.  It ranges from 1863 to 1998 and from the United States to Newfoundland to Ireland and back again.  It ties the real life events of the four men in Ireland to the family, it is a good mixture of fiction and non fiction.  It is a gripping story, more so for the family, the different stories are told in different styles, with a couple of them being more gripping than others, in particular the Frederick Douglass was most gripping to me.

Did I like it?  Yes, although the differing styles was kind of disconcerting.  I really liked the early chapters better than the later ones.


What is with the title of the review?  The book switches writing styles part ways through, I really liked the early stories, that were told with short declarative sentences, often very short, sometimes only two to five words.

Make sure to read the extras and Thanks to Harley West

You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin; 2011; $16.99; 362 pages; Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY; 978-0-316-07742-2; Teen; purchased from Multnomah County Librarys’ Title Wave Used Bookstore; 8/16-8/20

Why did I pick this up?  Sean was at Wordstock last year so I read Fade to Blue and really liked it.  Then when I heard he and some other authors I liked were going to be at Powell’s in Beaverton I went and picked up his book The Infects which I really liked.  I loaned this to my friend Harley West and he recommended it so I read, I like Seans’ writing and I value Harleys’ recommendation.

What is the story?  Wesley Payne was killed or committed suicide by hanging on the football goal post at Salt River High School and Dalton Rev and his associate are hired by the victims’ sister to find out who and why he was killed and what happened to some money that was involved.  Dalton is  a high school student who is working as a detective to raise money to buy body armor for his brothers unit which is deployed to the Middle East.  Every clique at the school has a racket they run to make money, all the teachers and administration are corrupt and charge for almost everything including grades.  Dalton runs through enough red herrings that he could can them and sell an entire of them at the local supermarket.  The vocabulary at Salt River is incredible as are the various cliques that operate at the school.  Dalton solves the case, you think I am going to tell you the entire plot, what kind of asshat would that make me.

Did I like it?  One of the funniest things I have read in a long time, but still a classic whodunit, with all the hard boiled detectives cliches well used.


What is with the title of the review?   I think Sean had as much fun writing the glossary, the breakdown of the cliques and the excerpts from the books Dalton refers to for his detective work as he did writing the story.  Make sure to read everything, read the glossary and the Salt River Clique Index before you read the story to maximize your enjoyment.  I gave this book to my friend Harley West and asked him to let me know how he liked it.  He gave it a good recommendation so that motivated me to read it.  Thanks, Harley.



The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis; 2013; $24.95; 243 pages; Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY; 978-0-385-35028-0; Fiction; Checked out from Multnomah County Library, Fairveiw; 8/1-8/5

Why did I pick this up?  The author is coming to Wordstock this year and I like to read things before the festival.

What is the story?  This is the story of Hattie, but it is told through the lives of her children.  Each childs’ story is incredible and told in a completely different voice.  Most of them are very moving, my favorite is Franklins’ story.  The story moves from the early twentieth century to today, you see Hattie through the eyes of each individual child.  Hattie is an African American woman who moves from Georgia to Philadelphia and gets married and starts having children while still in her teens.  The story ends with her in her sixties or seventies, we are able to see how Hattie changes through the years.

Did I like it?  Yes, this is one of the most original books that I have ever read and each and every story is moving always in different ways.


What is with the title of the review?  I understand why Oprah chose this for her book club.  This is an outstanding book.

Soundtrack by Randy Newman

Pink Smog, Becoming Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block; 2012; $17.99; 185 pages; Harper Teen, New York, NY; 978-0-06-156598-4; Teen; Checked out from Multnomah County Library, Fairview Branch; 7/18-7/19

Why did I pick this up?  The author is scheduled to be at Wordstock , October 5 & 6 at The Oregon Convention Center and I like to read books of authors that are coming.

What is the story?  Louise is a young girl whose parents are splitting up as the story begins.  She encounters some bullying from mean girls at her schools, makes friends with some other outliers, finds strange riddles that lead her to various places around Los Angeles.  She tries to figure out why her parents split and who she is and where she fits in to the various parts of her life.  She becomes a strong young woman who knows where she belongs and has a stronger sense of who she is.

Did I like it?  Yes, it is a mystery, a slice of life and an ode to my favorite city.   The author does a great job of evoking all that is Los Angeles.


What is with the title of the review?  The story is as much about the city of Los Angeles as it is about the main character and I kept thinking of Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.”  as I read the book.


The Tale of Two Women and an island

San Miguel by T.C. Boyle; 2012; $27.95; 367 pages; Viking Press, New York, NY; 978-0-670-02624-1; Fiction; Checked out from Multnomah County Library, Fairview; 6/27-7/3

Why did I pick this up?  I have seen several of T.C. Boyles’ books come through the bookstore and then I learned that he will be coming to Wordstock this year.

What is the story?  This is the story of two families and one island.  The island is one of the Channel Islands off the coast of California.  The head of each family is a veteran, one of the Civil War and one of World War I.  The men could not be more different and are important to the story but the main character in each story is the wife.  The story is how isolation affects each of us and how changes in society affect each of us.  The two families do not interact but there are connecting threads between the two stories, the island and a farm hand.

Did I like it?  It was just ok, the first story drug on and wasn’t, to me, very engaging and the second story was a little better.


What is with the title of the review?  The stories seem to start out focusing on the men in each family, but it is actually the story of the two wives that is most engaging.