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Last Fall, Sam Shepard made a visit to the Fine Arts Library. The evening before
he arrived, I thought I should read his Pulitzer Prize winning play, Buried Child.
In addition, Beth Kerr, Theatre/Dance Librarian told me if you can only read one
thing before Shepard arrives, read Buried Child. This play is about a dysfunctional
family, set on a farm in the Midwest. Shepard does an excellent job describing the
strained relations amongst the three generations of family members. The family
secret, the mystery of the “Buried Child” is revealed in the third act of the play.
Now I recommend it to patrons who look at the Shepard materials on display and want
to read something by him.
My friend Stephanie recommended this book to me. She picked it up in the Bay Area
where the author is a local celebrity. Turns out Wilson is also a performing artist
and arts critic, even more reason for me, as Fine Arts Librarian, to delve into this
novel. It is another coming of age story, this one of Liza Normal (who is anything
but normal). Her raison d’etre is to become a successful actress and/or singer. The
book is the trials and tribulations of this quest. The characters that surround Liza
include her loudmouth mother, reclusive brother, and a whole host of bizarre and
endearing characters. Wilson’s book is hilarious. From the first few pages, until
the very end, I was completely engaged and amused.
I love fiction especially coming of age stories. I was having lunch with Nancy
Schiesari, a Radio-Television-Film professor and lauded cinematographer earlier this
Spring and she recommended Carousel of Progress to me. The story is about a teenage
girl growing up in L.A. whose parents are getting divorced. There is so much truth
and honesty in this tale, the characters are so real, and the dynamics of the
relationships so complex. Tanney grew up in L.A. and now lives in Austin, just like
me. Schiesari knows Tanney personally because Tanney is also a cinematographer. The
story was so familiar, it was hard to put down.
I am really recommending any of Richard Russo’s works. All of them are great and
you can follow a rise in the quality of his writing as you read newer and newer
works. The basic premise seems to be the same in each of his novels (at least the 4
of his 5 which I have read): they’re all set in a small town in the American
Northeast and full of wacky characters -- some in dire situations, some suffering
for caring about those in dire situations, and some suffering at the hands of those
in dire situations. Either way, the characters are what are great about Russo’s
writing. He makes you believe that these unreal folk are real and he makes you
suffer along with them, while at the same time you often want to give them a
smack-in-the-head wake-up call. This title won Russo the Pulitzer Prize in fiction
for 2002. Basically, it is a chilling commentary on Columbine, but the plot, as in
his other works, is almost incidental to how the characters react to what is
occurring. Russo is always funny and often at the same time heart-wrenching. His
books are quick reads and all wonderfully realized.
In beautiful stark prose, Maile Meloy tells the story of the Santerre family,
following the complex relationships among four generations from World War II and the
family's arrival in California to the present. As the story shifts from one
generation to the next and one decade to the next, Meloy competently shifts the tone
of the novel to match the tone of each era and provides insight into the effects of
social change through time on the structure of the family. While it dabbles in the
realm of literary soap opera and has its moment of melodrama, the characters and the
family secrets they share provide an engaging and compelling story of heartbreak,
Catholic guilt, and sexual temptation.
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Page viewed: March 11, 2014 | Page last modified: December 31, 1969 |