“The Hour I First Believed” a novel by Wally Lamb
They were both working their final shift at Blackjack Pizza that night, although nobody but the two of them realized it was that.
I was a little leery when I picked up all 730 pages of this novel but he had captivated me with his previous novels and he did with this one too. It’s not only about Columbine. There are so many layers to this story it’s hard to describe it. There’s a marriage torn apart by the events at columbine, the aftermath of post-traumatic stress. There’s a back story filled with letters and diary entries involving characters such as mark Twain. Usually these back stories lose my interest but not this one. There’s grief and friendship and betrayal, women’s prison, art, mythology and so much more. It all comes together into one gorgeous story that pulls you into its world.
“Lit” a memoir by Mary Karr
Any way I tell this story is a lie, so I ask you to disconnect the device in your head that repeats at intervals how ancient and addled I am.
That is the first line of the prologue, which is an open letter to her son. The entire memoir reads like a love letter to him as well. Karr proved her mettle in “The Liar’s Club” and in this book she builds upon and perhaps even surpasses that. Her writing once again goes straight to the beauty and chaos of her life as she looks back, piecing together the jagged pieces of her life: addiction, marriage, motherhood, friendship, prayer, religion and writing. She’s not afraid to dive back into the ugly parts- or she is afraid but is more afraid of not facing it. I borrowed this book from a friend and know that I will need to go out and buy my own copy.
“Columbine” nonfiction by Dave Cullen
He told them he loved them.
After reading Lamb’s “The Hour I First Believed” earlier in the month, I felt compelled to pull this one off of my bookshelf. Cullen is considered the foremost expert on Columbine. He gives a mesmerizing and meticulous account of the tragedy, the why and how of it. He traces the path that Harris and Klebold took to end up where they did. He dispels the enduring myths surrounding Columbine, the stories the media fed to us, the stories we told ourselves that helped us feel safe or at least safe from having such a massacre occur in our own communities. The story is hard to read but unimaginable to have lived through. He shows us how the survivors have done just that. Everyone should read this book.
“Ron Carlson Writes a Story” by Ron Carlson
This is the story of a story.
This is at least the fourth time I’ve read this book. I usually pick it up when I need some of his no-nonsense work ethic to rub off on me. It worked. He helps me to see how staying in the room is the key. I also went to see him give a reading in Ann arbor and he signed it for me. I’m sure I’ll be reading it again. And again. And again…
“The Year of the Flood” a novel by Margaret Atwood
In the early morning Toby climbs up to the rooftop to watch the sunrise.
Read this at your own risk. I was mesmerized by Atwood’s vision of our world in 2025. Based on the world as we know it, her vision feels all too possible if not probable. A devastating pandemic has wiped out much of human life. Ren, a dancer in a high end exotic club has survived as well as Toby, a member of the religious group, God’s Gardeners who blend science and religion. Ren is trapped in a room at the club while Toby is trapped at a former spa where she lives on their edible spa treatments. Are they alone? How will they survive? Are any of their friends alive? These questions as well as other broader philosophical ones kept me turning the pages.
“The Hole We’re In” a novel by Gabrielle Zevin
Midway through his son’s graduation from college, somewhere between the N’s and the O’s, Roger Pomeroy decided that he owed it to himself to go back to school.
I first discovered Zevin on my daughter’s bookshelf through a YA novel, “Elsewhere”. I loved it and when I saw that she had an adult novel I knew I had to read it. And I did. In less than 24 hours. The Pomeroy’s are your average, middle-class, suburban Texas family. Roger decides that he is owed the opportunity to pursue a Ph.D., a decision that will ultimately unravel his family. His wife, George, tries to keep their family and finances afloat but the economy is in a recession so she does what many people do. Denial. Roger and George’s choices have tragic consequences for their children who are each struggling in their own ways. We follow this family from the present through 2022, and see our current social culture and economy reflected in their lives. Thoroughly engaging and entertaining.