submitted by Kit Darling and the members of the Bay Area Book Club
In December we discussed Practical Jean by Trevor Cole. Jean Horemarsh lives in an Ontario small town, is a creative but largely inept potter, described by a Quill and Quire reviewer as a “general underachiever”. She spends several months caring for her mother who is dying of cancer. After her mother’s death, Jean reflects on the pain and suffering and only regrets that she didn’t suffocate her and save her the agony. And that revelation leads to the unusual decision to ‘help’ her friends, all essentially middle-aged, healthy women, avoid the long-drawn-out process and pains of aging and a protracted and painful death. Some of us could not get into the book despite best efforts. Most of the members however, enjoyed the book. They appreciated the author’s writing style, satire and humour. They felt that Jean was very ill, but that many of her issues stemmed from her childhood. The plot and characters led to a discussion on mortality and morality and the suffering that aging can bring. A different book for sure! Kit Darling
We Had a Little Real Estate Problem by Kliph Nesteroff. Nesteroff’s new book takes a long overdue look at the history of Native Americans in comedy, letting comedians tell their own stories and the impact of racism on their lives. Beginning with the first Native Americans as entertainers in Wild West Shows in the 1800s. Then vaudeville and Will Rogers who presented as a cowboy despite his tribal roots. “I’m not one of those Americans whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower, but we met them at the boat when they landed”, Rogers quipped. By the 1920s Native comedy was changing and all comedians shared the same problems of waiting for stage time, playing to empty rooms, and feeding their families. In 1977 Charlie Hill broke ground as Richard Pryor’s first Native American guest. It was Hill who gave this book its title when he quipped, “My people are from Wisconsin. We used to be from New York. We had a little real estate problem.” Native Americans see humor as a form of resistance to the loss of their culture, language, and tribal lands as well as to the systemic racism and harassment that hinders access to work and education. A well researched book and a good read as told through the vibrant stories of the comics themselves.
The Mist by Ragnar Jonasson. This may have been the “noir-est” Nordic Noir that I have read to date. Set in the short, dark days of December, primarily in the remote moors of eastern Iceland on an even more remote and isolated farm. Detective Insp. Hulda Hermannsdottir is struggling to return to work at her Reykjavik office while recovering from an undisclosed tragedy when she is assigned to investigate 2 murders at an isolated farm. She is also haunted by the unresolved disappearance of a young woman. And of course here is a blizzard to contend with. Lots of twists and turn and the slow reveal of the “who, what and when” but not necessarily the “why”. An excellent read. Kit Darling
Note: The bookmobile stops at Bennetto Recreation Centre, Thursdays from 4:30 to 5:00. There is no access to the bookmobile to browse, but staff are on hand for contactless returns and holds pickup.
Have you read any of our recommendations? Liked any of the same books we talked about or disagreed totally? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org .