Dec 282017
 

Whiskey Galore, by Compton McKenzie

The Story of the Lost Child, by Elena Ferrante

The Photograph, by Penelope Lively

Crampton Hodnet, by Barbara Pym

Quartet in Autumn, by Barbara Pym

The Sweet Dove Died, by Barbara Pym

Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle, by Mary J. Macleod

The Lewis Man, by Peter May

Razor Girl, by Carl Hiassen

Moonglow, by Michael Chabon

Mayflower – A story of Courage, Community, and War, by Nathaniel Philbrick

Aug 202016
 

Staggerford

By Jon Hassler

Three Stars

Read July 2014

“Staggerford” is the first novel of the late Jon Hassler, a Minnesota writer who my mother recommended to me thirty years ago. Not for the first time, I wish I’d taken her advice. The novel is what I call a town book, a story that includes a large cast of characters in a particular place at a particular time with a variety of subplots that are all stitched together by a main character. The character in here is high school English teacher Miles Pruit, a 35-year-old bachelor who boards with a 60-something spinster who teaches at the local Catholic grammar school. The place is a small town in Minnesota near the Chippewa reservation, and the time is the 1970s as the American Indian Movement(AIM)took its first steps to regain the rights and sovereignty of native Americans and their lands. The story takes place over a single week, beginning the day before Halloween, as Miles settles in to another school year. For the most part, this is a quiet story about ordinary people living in a plain town, but Hassler’s superb characterization suggests that the most ordinary people may have extraordinary depth and the plainest town may pulse with the true stuff of life.