Having never experienced life in a rehab center I cannot speak to the authenticity or veracity of the setting Benjamin Alire Sáenz creates in, Last Night I Sang To The Monster. 18 year-old Zach is an alcoholic who comes out of a black out in a treatment center with no memory of how he got there. I can say the novel is populated by memorable characters who are engaged in emotionally resonant relationships in a visceral setting. And in those respects, Sáenz has succeeded in crafting a very effective and moving novel. While not all aspects of the novel work perfectly, it is clear that Sáenz has
British consul, Geoffrey Firmin, is living in Mexico in self-imposed exile, solitary and saturated with liquor. He was once happy, or maybe ne never was. He isn’t sure now that he’s too riddled by alcoholism to even put on his socks. But on this day, The Day of the Dead, 1938, he has a visitor. His wife Yvonne has come to rescue the consul from himself. Maybe she can persuade him to leave Mexico behind and start over with her. Maybe she can salvage their marriage, left in ruins by her string of affairs with Geoffrey’s two best friends – both of whom are there with him in Mexico. They
Hildy Good has two tricks to find out anything about anyone. First, as the top real estate agent in her area, she's able to figure out more than you'd think by looking at the condition of someone's house, including the state of their health, or the state of their marriage. And second, she claims to be a mind-reader. Oh sure, it's just a party trick that involves being very good at interpreting micro-expressions and body language, but with her skills and the fact that her ancestor was Sarah Good, who was among the first to be accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials, she's managed to
Despite her best efforts, I love Mattie Wallace. She often behaves badly, and she knows it. But it’s who she believes she is, so she behaves badly.
Finding herself in a delicate condition with nowhere to turn, she embarks on an impossible journey to collect an unlikely inheritance. Immersed in the secret lives of her mother and the grandmother she never met, Mattie unwittingly starts to heal. The wounds of her past begin to scab over, and the broken places start to mend. As she skitters down the road of her family history, she drags an entire town, bucking and skidding, along with her.
When I picked up this book, I thought the title was reflective of a "good" house as opposed to a "bad" house, but actually the lead character and narrator of the novel is named Hildy Good. Hildy is a successful real estate agent in Wendover, Massachusetts, a town along Boston's north shore, where she "makes it her business to know everybody's business." She is the mother of two grown daughters and is an ex-wife to a husband who revealed to her he was gay after 20-plus years of marriage. This darkly comic story revolves around the fact that she is also a not-so recovering alcoholic, adept at
In Summerland, twins Hobby and Penny Alistair are shining stars at Nantucket High School. But on graduation night of their junior year they are involved in a car accident that leaves Penny dead and Hobby in a coma for seven days. Character portrayals are authentic with each family of the four students in the car getting their share of scrutiny. The town also has a voice and a collective reaction
When Ron Currie’s love tells him she needs space and that he should leave, he does. He moves to the Caribbean where he is supposed to work on his next novel and wait patiently for her to request his return. That’s not what happens. He spends his days drinking heavily, cohabitating with a young college drop-out, and writing the completely wrong novel. Upon his failed suicide, Curry realizes that he can just disappear; and he does. But just for a while. And when he resurfaces he finds that his life, or rather, his death, has taken a decidedly unanticipated turn. And now he must deal with the
This memoir, that reads like a novel and should appeal to anyone who enjoys family drama, defies convention when it comes to predictability. Jeannette Walls grew up in a family of nomads. She and her three siblings were born in the west to a couple who were brilliant but ungrounded, to say the least. Her father, Rex, had the makings of a scientist but alcoholism and wanderlust kept him from settling in a job too long. Her mother, Rose Mary, was a college-educated teacher who hated teaching. She saw herself as an artist and free spirit. Jeannette was born in Phoenix, but the family lived
Dennis McFarland’s The Music Room is one of those novels that you don’t forget. I first read it 20 years ago. When my aunt recently mentioned it, I immediately knew the book she was talking about. I decided to read it again. Alcoholism, suicide and divorce figure prominently, yet it’s still a lyrical, poetic work of beauty, sensitivity and dark humor. Martin Lambert is going through a divorce when he receives news that his brother Perry, a composer, has committed suicide by intentionally falling from a building in New York. Martin heads to New York to handle his brother’s affairs and to
Warning: there is a dog on the cover of this book. There is a dog in the book. There is a dog living in Paul’s apartment, and she is a special dog. Don’t ask me if the dog dies. I already know you don’t want to read another book in which the dog dies. So don’t ask, because the book isn’t about the dog. The book is about Paul. Just as in Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain and Susan Wilson’s One Good Dog Nelson has pulled the old bait and switch. There is a dog (and I won’t tell you if he dies, so don’t ask), but the book isn’t about the dog.
Paul is just a regular guy leading a
Author of prize-winning Gilead continues with some of the characters from that story. The setting is once again, Gilead, IA, and focuses on the sister, Glory, her brother, Jack and their aging father, who was a minister at their family “home”. Glory has come back to care for her father, after a failed relationship. She has nowhere else to go and he needs care. Brother Jack shows up after a 20 year absence. His father has prayed for his return all this time, but there has been no word from him until now. Jack has struggle with being different than the rest of the
When Junior announces that he wants to attend the white school off the reservation he is not only ostracized, but tormented by his own people. As he dips one foot into the strange world of white people and keeps the other firmly planted on the reservation he feels torn between the better life he glimpses at his new school and the life he has always known.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian is simultaneously hopeful and hopeless. Junior is one boy out of an entire reservation who is able to break the pattern that has so firmly gripped his family and friends. At the same time