I’m going to toss out four books for consideration or consumption, like tossing out bones for the canine to choose from—one, two, maybe three, or all of them?
The first is “Hold the Dark,” by William Giraldi. This is a great wintertime read—cold, thought provoking, intimidating—like winter itself. Ginnie and I first encountered “Hold the Dark” as a Netflix movie. I watched it three times, and could watch it again. The only solution for the questions it raised was to read the book, which I did. Wonder of wonders, the movie is almost an exact replica of the book. Until the end. Then its gets real in-depth. Is the wolf the predator or is man? Great read, or movie, or both.
The second book is “A Slipping Down Life,” by Ann Tyler. This is Ann Tyler at her best, once again. An interesting tale, of anti-heroes plodding through life. I have never seen a cast of unlikely characters thrown together in such a haphazard way, which makes the book intriguing, entertaining and a page turner. There’s even a surprise ending, like a lemon-center cream puff following dinner.
The third book is “The Girl Who Smiled Beads,” by Clemantine Wamariya—pronounced Clemanteen (she will correct you). A woman at church loaned me this book without me asking. Always read books that are given to you without asking. I will never complain about my aches and pains again, or my so-called “difficulties.” A child of the Rwandan massacres, Wamariya eventually becomes a refugee in the United States. She has a new life. But the refugee child is always lurking—-issues of trust, safety, hunger. This book has loads of implication to the refugees seeking asylum in our country today. Should we turn them away or try to understand their plight? It’s not as simple as, “Immigrate legally.” It’s a matter of life or death.
And the fourth book is “The Friend,” by Sigrid Nunez. “The Friend” is a finalist for the National Book Award. I heard Nunez being interviewed on NPR by Terry Gross. Nunez wanted to put three elements into a novel that she had never seen in a novel before—suicide of a friend, teaching writing, and the human-canine bond. “The Friend” is a 180 pound Great Dane named Apollo, that belonged to a former male lover who was a famous author, writing teacher, and womanizer (especially of female writing students). The male lover commits suicide for unknown reasons—he leaves no note—and the woman, who lives in a 500 sq ft New York apartment that allows no pets, inherits Apollo from wife III (out of IV). The woman learns that animals grieve, as she is grieving for her deceased lover/friend, and that if she reads to Apollo, it brings peace, as it does her. When she is off busy doing something else, Apollo brings her the book. This is a marvelous, well-written book, whether you’re an animal lover or not.
I’ll throw in a fifth book for free. It’s “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens. This book showed up on Ginnie’s smartphone for no apparent reason. We think she “rump bought” it. Anywho, I had heard of “Where the Crawdads Sing,” and was needing another book, so thought I would give it a shot. It’s a bestseller and wonderful reading. I have always claimed that I learned more about life by being outdoors observing nature. “Where the Crawdads Sing” fits this taught-by-nature model to a T. “...the female firefly flickers the light under her tail to signal to the male that she’s ready to mate...The females got what they wanted—first a mate, then a meal—just by changing their signals.”
Happy winter reading.
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Facebook. Curt’s stories are read at 106.3 FM in Farmington.