Ebert on Books

Roger Ebert is talking about books now, and brother can I relate.

I cannot throw out these books. Some are protected because I have personally turned all their pages and read every word; they’re like little shrines to my past hours. Perhaps half were new when they came to my life, but most are used, and I remember where I found every one. The set of Kipling at the Book Nook on Green Street in Champaign. The scandalous The English Governess in a shady book store on the Left Bank in 1965 (Obilisk Press, $2, today $91). The Shaw plays from Cranford’s on Long Street in Cape Town, where Irving Freeman claimed he had a million books; it may not have been a figure of speech. Like an alcoholic trying to walk past a bar, you should see me trying to walk past a used book store.

Moncton’s Annual Used Book Fair

used book saleMoncton has an annual used book sale at a curling club in the Spring. Every couple of years I purge my books for those I don’t want, delivering them to the local fire station with the kids (because every kid loves fire stations).

Moncton‘s longest running used book sale is once again looking for donations of gently used books.
The 47th Annual Book Fair will be held at the Beaver Curling Club on May 7th, 8th, and 9th, 2009.
The money raised provides scholarships and bursaries for local women. Hardcover and paperback English and French books, in good condition are welcome, as well as puzzles, games, CDs, DVDs, videos and cassettes. No encyclopedias, textbooks, magazines or record albums, please.
Donations may be dropped off at Moncton, Dieppe or Riverview Fire Stations etween now and May 1st.

The books are cheap. They organize them by category, putting most on tables. I don’t remember finding any gems there, but the sale is still worth a browse.

Books, Books, Books

My Dad saves the Books supplement from Saturday’s Globe and Mail every week; I like to read book reviews, hopeful I may be a reviewer one day. This week he also dropped off books he recently finished, including some I lent him:

Since posting my last book review I’ve read about 20 new books. I’m too busy (i.e. lazy) to write reviews of them. I’m considering doing what J-Walk does; that is, write a couple sentences about the last few books I read, instead of tackling long reviews as one post. You’re welcome.

A Review Of “The Memory Of Running” by Ron McLarty

The Memory Of Running by Ron McLartyThe Memory Of Running by Ron McLarty
Rating: Rating: 8 out of 10 stars (8/10)

This excellent novel reminded me of The Lovely Bones, although it’s completely different. Both start with death, with the protagonist working through their family and themselves dealing with it, then closure at the end of the story; however, The Lovely Bones’ protagonist is a dead 14 year old. The Memory Of Running‘s protagonist is a chain-smoking, forty-three year old alcoholic with no life:

…people tended to form quick opinions of me when I stood there fat and drunk and cigarette-stained in front of them. Even reasonable people go for an immediate response. Drunk. Fat. A smoky-burned aroma.

He rides across America on a bicycle, trying to come to terms with his life: his insane sister, dead parents, regrets, and how he got where he is. It’s a painful ride at first (physically and emotionally), but his telling of his past and the people he meets on his journey helps him survive the journey. I’m making it sound sappy, but it isn’t. The guy is a little nuts, but he has a great story to tell.

The author writes well, making you feel not only for the main character, but everyone he writes about. He hits home sometimes:

You have to learn to look at someone you truly adore through eyes that really aren’t your own. It’s as if a person has to become another person altogether to be able to take a hard look. Good people protect people they love, even if that means pretending that everything is okay.

Or:

…I was a loner who wished not to be alone. It’s something I have thought about and thought about, and I now feel that at any given time there are a lot of lonely loners out there. We just don’t understand the process of making some friends. The complicated format of friendship. It’s not easy.

Yeah, people who know me can see why those struck home, but don’t let my admiration dissuade you: this is a funny, touching novel. It isn’t a work of literature with a capital “L”; it’s a good novel. It’ll make you laugh, might make you cry, make you empathetic for the characters, and reminiscent about your past and life, giving you something to think about, although not in a deep way. You’ll smile when you put the book down after reading a chapter or two. He tells a good story.

A Review Of “The Lovely Bones” By Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones by Alice SeboldThe Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Rating: Rating: 7 out of 10 stars (7/10)

Mr. Harvey killed the narrator of this tale. She’s 14 years old in heaven, first describing how he lured her into “a hiding place”, raped and killed her (one and the same to many), then describing her family’s aftermath of dealing with her death. Soon after she’s killed, her mother unknowingly meets the murderer on the street:

Mr. Harvey told her the usual: “I hope they get the bastard. I’m sorry for your loss.”
I was in my heaven by that time, fitting my limbs together, and couldn’t believe his audacity. “The man has no shame,” I said to Franny, my intake counsellor. “Exactly,” she said, and made her point as simply as that. There wasn’t a lot of bullshit in my heaven.

This is a well-written, involved story. It’s almost a suspense novel, wondering if the killer will be caught, if the safe some of her body parts were stored in will be found; what her sister or dad will do to him, knowing intuitively the guy who did it. There’s a fantastical element to the story, where the dead protagonist communicates in subtle ways with those she loved; her little brother, her first love… and it almost didn’t work for me. It was like the movie Ghost: touchingly sappy; however, the characters are drawn beautifully; you want everything to work out for them, hoping their grief over her death is concluded sometime, and it is:

The events that my death wrought were merely the bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future. The price of what I came to see as this miraculous body had been my life.

So yeah, they live happily ever after. It’s a good read. The middle of it almost got tedious for me; I got impatient for the outcome. And some characters appear haphazardly enough that I couldn’t remember who they were; I had to read back or stop and think, Who the hell is Nate? But it’s a good book. It’ll make you believe.