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Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood is an amazing book. I read it for the Broken Arrow Library book discussion group, and while I was reading it, I was thinking, "Man, this is a good book." Then my book group discussed it. By the end of the discussion, we were all sitting there with our mouths hanging open thinking collectively, "Mind blown."
Yesterday as I was driving back to my office from a meeting I heard the news that a new book by Harper Lee will be published this summer. I almost wrecked the car! Part of Lee’s mystique is that she wrote one perfect novel, a book that is beloved by generations of Americans, then was silent for more than 50 years, living a quiet life in Monroeville Alabama with her sister.
I’ve tried to embrace Nancy Pearl’s rule about tossing a book if I don’t like it after the first 50 pages, but I must admit that I’ve always been reluctant to give up on a book too quickly. I’ve read many wonderful books that didn’t really captivate me until long after I’d turned that 50th page. The Book of Salt, by Monique Truong, was one of those books.
There is something darkly portentous about the state of art and letters, not to mention imagination, when the topic of societal collapse becomes another threadbare novelty. A worn out trope of recycled cliché. Catastrophe tourism. Like a wasteland horror-show hall of mirrors, reflecting back something borrowed from something lifted. The apogee of the genre has long been buried, its virtue eroded away into zombie adoration and Mad Max imagery. There are of course diamonds in the rough but so often