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Old 04-15-2013, 11:18 AM
 
13,499 posts, read 18,047,749 times
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I just finished rereading Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell. I must have read this novel when I was in high school or college. I remembered only the locale and the general tone of the book, and the names of a couple of the characters. However, the book has enjoyed both fame and noteriety over the years, and I wanted to see what it was I had read. It would have been half a century ago, so I could forgive myself for not being able to resurrect more of its substance.

I wonder how it would fare in literature course today, not well, I think. Certainly both the religious conservative and the political correctnik would find much to appall them. The novel deals with the more or less final days of a white Southern family, the Lesters, which over the generations has slipped to the level of sharecropper, and lives in abject, brutalizing poverty. The characters are so wretched for the most part that it is hard to feel the milk of human kindness flooding in their direction, largely because they are without love or mercy for each other. I think that in several respects it could be compared to Liam O'Flaherty's novel Famine. Perhaps the most significant difference is that in Caldwell's book the land's refusal to support the people has gone on long enough to rot out any better natures the Lesters might have had; whereas Flaherty's impoverished family goes to its doom more rapidly, and the total decay of their characters is terminated by wholesale death.

If you allow yourself (and I did) there is dark, dark humor in some of the family's grotesque in-fighting, and the night that the preacher woman, Sister Bessie, spends in a city "hotel" with her teenage husband and his father is handled in a deadpan manner that almost dares the reader to smirk.

What comes through with increasingly clarity as the short novel progresses is that the land itself has ruined these people, though not so much the wasted, worn soil as the protagonist's tenacious refusal to give it up. To the bitter-most final pages he is enduring in his belief that this land is his salvation. And when it is not, in the most grusome way imaginable, this makes the book's final sentence, spoken by his teenage son a mind-boggling return to novel's beginning.

For those who would find Tobacco Road like eating glass, I would suggest reading his childhood memoir, Deep South. It is Caldwell's early years in the old segregated, provincial South as the son of a minister. It is a fine, fine book, and elegiac in its tone and simple nobility. It is not a book about religion, but rather one about the dignity and love that can sometimes be found in ordinary, unassuming people
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Old 04-15-2013, 02:18 PM
 
4,692 posts, read 4,327,212 times
Reputation: 8405
Quote:
Originally Posted by younglisa7 View Post
I just started The Dream: A Memoir by Harry Bernstein.

I read his other book, The invisible wall which was just beautiful.
Guess I am going to add this to the to be read list.
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Old 04-15-2013, 05:28 PM
 
Location: Windham County, VT
10,855 posts, read 6,314,570 times
Reputation: 22048
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ketabcha View Post
I've been trying to settle down with a book since noon and I started two and put them down. About half the books I have on the kindle were purchased from "kindle deals of the day." It's hard for me to turn down a 1.99 book. I usually find one to buy.

So I have settled down with Brain on Fire:My Month of Madness by Susanna Cahalan.
Read an excerpt in Psychology Today magazine, sure sounded interesting to me...
hope you can get into it & report back as to how it was for you.

I'm still waiting for my reserved library book (Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed) to become available,
it was due back last Friday but I've yet to get notice saying it's been checked back in.
Maybe the person liked it a lot & is holding onto it for a few extra days ?
I'll ask when I stop by the library later this week.
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Old 04-16-2013, 01:37 AM
 
131 posts, read 208,036 times
Reputation: 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Isabella View Post
I know that they are other forums for this but I like the people on this forum. The people on the other forums are so annoying and boring. Then the sites with the people that aren't so boring are more immature then I am! Anyway, I'm currently reading "The Kite Runner" and it's great so far. Below is my list of books I've read recently and yes, I liked them all.
1. Time Traveler's wife (chicklit)
2. Forever by Pete Hamill
3. The Red Tent (chicklit)
4. All of the Harry Potter Books (Loads of fun)
5. Middlesex
6. A Million Little Pieces
7. The 5 People You meet in Heaven
8. Yes, yes - The DaVinci Code
9. Memoirs of a Geisha

My all time Favorite book is Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. I can go on and on. But the the book I keep going back to over and over again is 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12. I love my kids but they drive me crazy
Ben Carson's "Gifted Hands", Niccolo Machiavelli's "The Prince", "Steve Jobs" for the second time, "The Will to Believe" by William James, and "The Zen Experience" by Thomas Hoover; my taste in books is quite eclectic for I get bored of any particular genre fairly quickly. I want to begin reading the Bible or Quran someday because although I lack religion and honestly don't care to seek one again (former Christian), some of the subjects in those books can help one out although they may not be spiritual.
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Old 04-16-2013, 06:15 AM
 
101 posts, read 32,511 times
Reputation: 66
The Missing- chris mooney
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Old 04-16-2013, 12:54 PM
 
Location: Henderson, NV
4,033 posts, read 2,884,526 times
Reputation: 38758
Just finished "End of Your Life Book Club" by Will Schwalbe and loved it. For those of you looking for reading suggestions, the book includes a list of all of the books Will and his mother read while she lived with and died of pancreatic cancer. A loving book by a wonderful man about his amazing mother and their shared love of books and life.

I am now moving on to one of the "Irish" books on my list -- "The Last September" by Elizabeth Bowen -- set in the 1920s in County Cork, Ireland.
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Old 04-16-2013, 01:47 PM
 
Location: Texas
15,893 posts, read 18,165,680 times
Reputation: 62765
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloven View Post
Read an excerpt in Psychology Today magazine, sure sounded interesting to me...
hope you can get into it & report back as to how it was for you.

I'm still waiting for my reserved library book (Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed) to become available,
it was due back last Friday but I've yet to get notice saying it's been checked back in.
Maybe the person liked it a lot & is holding onto it for a few extra days ?
I'll ask when I stop by the library later this week.
Brain on Fire is an excellent book. That poor woman went through absolute hell before being diagnosed. I recommend it.
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Old 04-16-2013, 02:04 PM
 
Location: St. Louis, MO
758 posts, read 1,627,732 times
Reputation: 944
Let's see.

I'm still working on my re-read of Neuromancer (very early parts, still haven't gotten hooked in) and reading Model (also a very slow read). In the meantime, I read Death Benefit by Robin Cook (it's better than the couple before, but not by much) and The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz (it was funny enough, but took me a while to get through....I'll still probably read the rest, though).

I just started reading A Heartbeat Away by Michael Palmer. Another one of my favorite authors who has just resorted to pumping out the same trite every time.

I'm actually thinking of rereading the Hunger Games trilogy (again) since I'm excited about Catching Fire coming out.
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Old 04-16-2013, 11:56 PM
 
43,200 posts, read 43,823,490 times
Reputation: 20332
I just started reading "A Case of Two Cities" by Qiu Xiaolong. It is the third one in the Inspector Chen series that takes place in Shanghai (China). I enjoyed reading the first 2 so I hope this one will be just as good.
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Old 04-17-2013, 08:51 AM
 
Location: Where the sun likes to shine!!
20,549 posts, read 30,228,164 times
Reputation: 88940
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mayvenne View Post
I read his other book, The invisible wall which was just beautiful.
Guess I am going to add this to the to be read list.

I really enjoyed it. I will have to check out his other books.


Today I will start reading I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak.
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