Tragedy, Connection, and Hope

the-memory-of-thingsBook Club Advisor welcomes author, Gae Polisner, for a video interview on the power of literature, how The Memory of Things was created, and the impact of a national tragedy on a generation. (Scroll down for vlog clips with the author.)

It is the morning of September 11, 2001. Kyle is sixteen years old and his world is crumbling in front of him. From his high school in downtown Manhattan, Kyle watches the first Twin Tower fall and runs back home to Brooklyn as chaos descends. On the way, he finds a beautiful girl covered in ash and wearing costume wings, a girl who appears ready to jump from the bridge. He convinces her to come home with him to safety. Kyle feels lost and frightened, responsible for his uncle who needs medical care with the nurse unable to come due to the city being at a standstill. Kyle’s father is a first-responder at the scene and Kyle’s worry for him is palpable. When the story begins, Kyle only knows that his mother and sister are on a plane back from California. He cannot remember which flight or what time and fears for their lives. Kyle and the girl are both lost in grief and fear. Continue reading “Tragedy, Connection, and Hope”

Balancing on the Edge

eowyn-iveyEowyn Ivey’s new novel is a journey and adventure into the wilderness of Alaska and the depths of the human heart. When Sophie Forrester agrees to marry an army man in the 1800s she thinks she is going on his mapping expedition to Alaska with him. When she is told she will have to stay behind they are both devastated. Wife and husband will take separate journeys in an effort to explore the unknown while trying to find their way back to each other.

Sophie and Allen are introduced to us through their own journals and letters of descendants who want to make sure their story is preserved for history. The relationship between the relative and the museum curator, husband and wife, army captain and team, and Alaskan explorers and First Peoples are mixed together with historical excerpts from books, photographs, and artifact descriptions. This novel is a museum within two covers of a particular time and place, and the heartaches and struggles that transcend both. Continue reading “Balancing on the Edge”

New Southern Gothic

Miss Jane Miss Jane is a modern take on southern gothic literature. Miss Jane’s character would have been misunderstood as the freak or grotesque in novels past, but in National Book Award Finalist Brad Watson’s new book, Miss Jane is the innocent, the sun around which the rest of the story revolves, and it is her light that warms the novel. She crushes us with heartbreak and humanity as she stuns us with her strength and the feeling she could be me, she could be you.

In an age in which we are learning see sexuality and gender on a spectrum instead of binaries and look at the soul before anatomy, Miss Jane takes us on an unforgettable journey of being different in the rural south. Born in 1915 in Mississippi, Jane is diagnosed with a rare birth defect that will always set her apart from others. Her childhood doctor befriends her and tries with candor and care to help her navigate a world that does not allow for difference. Based on the experiences of Brad Watson’s own relative, he creates a beautiful atmospheric novel that captures a time in the past with a twist of modern issues, and a coming of age that is both universal and unique. Continue reading “New Southern Gothic”