This month I was involved with two long and complex books — The Folks and Tess of the D’Urbervilles — with alternate, multiple postings. Thanks for your patience.
Ruth Suckow, The Folks. This 1934 novel tells the lives of an Iowa couple, the Fergusons, and their extended family, beginning before World War I and ending during the Great Depression. I have commented by sections:
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Sarah (A Rat in the Book Pile) and I have been reading this classic together and commenting jointly.
I – The Maiden and Maiden No More
II – The Rally and The Consequence
III – The Woman Pays and The Convert
IV – Fulfillment
Pietra Rivoli, The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy. I learned about globalization in Paris z dozen years ago. I penetrated into a real French department store (no English spoken here) and went looking for t-shirts. I didn’t know what they are called in French, of course, but I quickly learned they are called t-shirts. In this fascinating book, an economist follows her t-shirt on its travels, beginning in the cotton fields of Texas and ending in the second-hand market of Dar Es Salaam.
Michael Lewis, Moneyball. I avoid professional sports and I avoid talking about professional sports, so who would predict I would enjoy this book about how to manage a professional baseball team when you don’t have a lot of money to spend on star players? It’s a great little morality tale about conventional wisdom in any area of life.
I have posted on the two books together: Not Dismal at All.
Joseph Roth, The Radetzky March. Three generations of the Trotta family serve and are served by the long-lived Hapsburg Franz Joseph, ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Neither Franz Joseph nor the Trottas survive the Great War.
Yoko Ogawa, The Diving Pool. This book contains three novellas by the author of The Housekeeper and the Professor. Each story is told in first person and is unsettling in some way. I found the narratives hard to understand and the emotions difficult to relate to. The author’s detached tone worked for me in The Housekeeper and the Professor, but leaves these stories outside my circle of enjoyment.
Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Conservative. New York Times columnist and Novel laureate (economics) describes the ups and downs of liberal programs in modern America and suggests areas for improvement. The book, published in 2007, does not include the collapse of the housing bubble, the ensuing financial crisis or the election of Obama.
Geraldine Brooks, March. Pulitzer-Prize winning novel imagines the story of Mr. March, the father of the four girls in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. In that book, March is with the troops, but we do not hear what he is doing there. In this book, we find that his life is greatly changed by his wartime experiences.
Josephine Johnson, Now In November. This 1930s Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel brings us hard times on the farm. A family struggles to extract enough from the natural world to deal with the outside world of hard time economics and the cruel circumstances of a drought.