Saturday, April 28, 2018


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A Death in Vienna, Daniel Silva, G P Putnam's Sons, 2004, 399 pp
I read the fourth book of Silva's Gabriel Allon series during Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day. It just worked out that way but was appropriate because while investigating the death of an old friend in Vienna, Gabriel uncovers the existence of a Nazi war criminal who had escaped justice for more than half a century.
Of course the plot is twisty, Allon is called upon to face plenty of danger, and this time he gets the target. In the first three books I learned about how he lost his child and the tragedy of his wife. In this one I learned the tragedy of his mother, a survivor who died in Israel. I had not known there exists in Jersusalem the Yad Vashem Archives, a collection of testimony and memories given by Holocaust survivors.

When Gabriel reads his mother's testimony, he learns his own family history for the first time. He also identifies the man he is after. That leads into the complicated politics of Austria, where Holocaust deniers hold and/or seek power. The parallels with Hungary, read about in Susan Faludi's In the Darkroom, were striking and eerie.

Reading A Death in Vienna brought about some realizations and deeper truths about history. There is not a country on Earth who has not done shameful acts against mankind and those who perpetrated those acts do all they can to deny and obliterate the memories of them. 

Yes, I already knew that but now I believe more strongly than ever in the importance of those times and acts being brought to light. While I am fine with justice being done and the correct punishments carried out against those who committed the crimes, what is more important for the mental and spiritual health of mankind in general is that the truth is brought out.

Apparently, despite contradictory evidence, I still believe the world can be a better place. That is why writers write and why I read.

(A Death in Vienna is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


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The Second Mrs Hockday, Susan Rivers, Algonquin Books, 2017, 254 pp

I admit sometimes I jump to conclusions. In this case, when one of my reading groups picked this novel, I wasn't paying much attention. I opened the book thinking it was one of those "wife books." Now, along with the adage not to judge a book by its cover comes a new one: don't judge a book by its title.

The Second Mrs Hockaday was a great read as well as a great discussion provoker for a reading group. Placidia is only 16 years old when she meets Major Hockaday who has come to her father's South Carolina home to buy a horse. The next day she marries him. They had one of those love-at-first-sight connections on meeting. Placidia's mother died when she was an infant and while she adores her father she despises her stepmother and her half siblings. 

Major Hockaday has recently lost his wife but has an infant son as well as a 300 acre farm. After one day spent settling Placidia at the farm and one night consummating their marriage, he is suddenly called back to the front lines of the Civil War and leaves. It is 1863. The war is going badly for the Confederacy and Placidia will not see her Major again for two years. She is left to raise his son and manage his farm with only a few servants, slaves, and sharecroppers. 

The book opens with a letter from Placidia to her cousin Mildred. Now it is 1865 and the war has been lost. The Major has finally returned to find his wife in jail accused of murdering a child she had while he was away. The child could not have been his and due to undelivered letters between them over the past year, it comes as a great shock.

I don't always like a novel told in letters but the author makes it work seamlessly. The back story of this tragic couple is revealed through the letters and this creates a relentless suspense. What Placidia had to endure is shocking and heartbreaking. Most upsetting of all is that the Major believes the rumors and charges against his wife, although they do still love each other, but she is not talking.

The mystery of what happened to Placidia is gradually revealed and I could not stop reading, so great is the need to know created in the reader of this first novel. Susan Rivers is an award winning playwright and clearly a competent historian.

I like war novels that show the impact on individuals and society as the war is fought. I remember the huge impression Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain had on me. At the time I thought it was the best Civil War novel I had ever read. The Second Mrs Hockaday is the second best one.

(The Second Mrs Hockaday is available in various formats by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

Monday, April 23, 2018


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Candy, Terry Southern, G P Putnam's Sons, 1964, 224 pp
Coming in at #2 on the 1964 bestseller list is what I found to be a quite silly book, intended to be a satire on American mores, mostly sex. I am a tough customer when it comes to satire and though I got a few laughs from Candy, I was glad it was short and soon over.
Candy is an ingenue who likes sex but has to pretend she does it to satisfy the "great need" of the men involved. Not that funny, is it? She has one adventure after another, just innocently finding herself with odd characters, always surprised to find herself so aroused.
Playboy Magazine listed the book in 2006 as one of the "25 Sexiest Novels Ever Written." So that tells you a lot. There are some fellows on Goodreads who confess they read it for a certain purpose as teenagers.

Terry Southern co-wrote the book in collaboration with his buddy Mason Hoffenberg for a flat fee from Olympia Press, Paris, France, in 1958. Olympia was known in those days as the "dirty book publisher." The novel was banned in the United States until 1964. Southern went on to work on screenplays for Dr Strangelove, Casino Royale, Barbarello, and Easy Rider, among others. What a guy.

Not recommended, even for teenage boys in 2018, unless you are taking a class in how not to write satire. The book does speak volumes about where America was at in the mid 60s when it came to sex.

Friday, April 20, 2018


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The Stone Sky, J K Jemisin, Orbit, 2017, 398 pp
In the final volume of Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy, the story of the Stillness, all the threads are tied from the far past to a possible better future for Earth and mankind. The plot is as complex as in the earlier two books but all the confusions I found in there begin to make sense.
I don't intend to go into the plot because I could not do so without big spoilers. Many mysteries become clear, the adventure level remains as high as it ever was, and the multiple identities of certain characters and their relationships take on some semblance of making sense. Somehow the suspense is held to almost the very last page.

This is one of the best fantasy/sci fi series I have read. It made me ponder many aspects of life while learning plenty of science. The heroines are like none I have met before. I don't think these books could have been written by anyone else besides a female person of color who is also a genius. I cannot wait to see what N K Jemisin does next.
(The Stone Sky is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


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The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, John le Carre, Coward-McCann Inc, 1963, 256 pp
The #1 bestseller in 1964 was this now famous spy story. With just his third novel, John le Carre hit the bestseller list right at the top. I have read eight of his novels, all out of order, but I read this one first back in 1993. By then I was familiar with Ken Follett's spy thrillers, however le Carre was clearly on a whole other level. Now that I am reading them in order I finally get the whole George Smiley thing.
The spy in this one is Alec Leamus, head of the Berlin Station. The Berlin Wall has just been erected and Leamus has lost his last agent while trying to get him out of East Berlin. His career as a spy has tanked and a desk job is not his cup of tea.

He agrees to a last assignment, pretending to go over to the Communists as a double agent. But George Smiley has sent him as bait to trap an actual double agent, Mundt, who is at that time the deputy director of the East German Intelligence Service.

If Leamus pulls it off, he can "come in from the cold" with a cushy pension. As usual in a le Carre story, no one is exactly who he or she seems to be. There is no happy ending. In fact, it is the deep sadness and despair that I love in these books. Not because sadness and despair are good things but because the author does it so well.

(The Spy Who Came in From the Cold is available in paperback on the shelves at Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


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Endangered Species, Nevada Barr, G P Putnam's Sons, 1997, 306 pp
This is Nevada Barr's fifth mystery set in United States National Parks and it is her best one yet. I am reading these books in order of publication as a tribute to our endangered parks.
Park ranger Anna Pigeon has been sent for a 21 day assignment on fire detail to Cumberland Island Seashore off the coast of Georgia. She is bored, the bugs are biting and she is counting the days. The most excitement so far is the arrival of the endangered loggerhead turtles, come to lay their eggs in the sand.

Until a plane crashes in the palmetto stands near the wilderness section of the island. Though Anna and the crew quickly extinguish the resulting fire, both the pilot and his passenger are dead. All the usual experts arrive to investigate but naturally Anna gets involved. Within a day or two she has uncovered enough suspicious details to make a long list of suspects in what amounts to murder accomplished by tampering with the plane. 

The wife of the passenger who is within a week of delivering her first baby, the biologist protecting the turtles who appears to be addicted to cocaine, the pilot with a history of wild antics, are only three of quite a few more.

As Anna doggedly works to sort out the clues while sticking with her new sobriety, her boyfriend Stanton, the FBI guy from the last two books, is helping Anna's sister Molly in New York. Molly has received a couple death threats. She and Stanton are also checking each other out with regards to Anna's intentions towards the agent. Stanton finds himself highly attracted to Molly.

Anna does solve the mystery for which she gets little credit though at least she emerges from her escapades alive. I have a feeling she will be looking for a new boyfriend in the next book.

I say it is Nevada Barr's best yet in the series because of the intricate plotting, some of her most unique characters, and the steady suspense of the story. The turtles are pretty cool too.

(Endangered Species is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

Sunday, April 15, 2018


In March I finished my reading list for 1963. These lists are the backbone of My Big Fat Reading Project. I had read some of the books in earlier times and did not chose to reread all of those but the total number of books read for 1963 is 57. I managed to complete the reading in one year. 

This time I put together some stats just out of interest. I don't claim that these numbers mean anything more than to show the range of certain categories in my choice of books to read, except for the Bestsellers. Those ten books reflect the book buying activity of American readers according to Publisher's Weekly, the organization that compiled bestseller lists from 1912-1999. 

Books written by women: 4 out of 10 bestsellers; 2 out of 6 award winning books, 16 out of 37 books chosen by me. Totals: 22 out of 57.
Speculative fiction: 9
Books written for children or young adults: 4
Books written by people of color: 2 in the main list, 2 in the research list
Translated literature: 4 (Countries of origin: France, Norway, Hungary and Peru)

A majority of these titles are reviewed here on the blog. If you search for reviews and don't find one for a particular title it means I read the book before 2005 when I began the blog.

I publish the list here as part of my own record keeping and because some of you who follow the blog have requested that I do so. If there are any great books published in 1963 that I missed please do let me know.



1.    The Shoes of the Fisherman, Morris L West
2.    The Group, Mary McCarthy
3.    Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, and Seymour, J D Salinger
4.    Caravans, James A Michener
5.    Elizabeth Appleton, John O’Hara
6.    Grandmother and the Priests, Taylor Caldwell
7.    City of Night, John Rechy
8.    The Glass-Blowers, Daphne du Maurier
9.    The Sand Pebbles, Richard McKenna
10.                  The Battle of the Villa Fiorita, Rumer Godden


1.    PULITZER: The Reivers, Faulkner
2.    NEWBERY: A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
3.     CALDECOTT: The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats
4.    NBA: Morte D’Urban, J F Powers
5.    HUGO: The Man in the High Castle, Philip K Dick
6.    EDGAR: Death and the Joyful Woman, Ellis Peters
7.    All the Colors of Darkness, Lloyd C Biggle
8.    The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
9.    The Benefactor, Susan Sontag
10.                  A Captive in the Land, James A Aldridge
11.                  Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
12.                  Children of Capricorn, William Abrahams
13.                  The Colors of Space, Marion Zimmer Bradley
14.                  The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan
15.                  The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin
16.                  The Force of Circumstance, Simone de Beauvoir
17.                  The Game-Players of Titan, Philip K Dick
18.                  The Girls of Slender Means, Muriel Spark
19.                  Glide Path, Arthur C Clarke
20.                  Glory Road, Robert A Heinlein
21.                  The Ice Palace, Tarjei Vesaas
22.                  Joy in the Morning, Betty Smith 
23.                  Leaving Cheyenne, Larry McMurtry
24.                  A Mind to Murder, P D James
25.                  The Moon by Night, Madeleine L’Engle
26.                  Mr Stone and the Knights Companion, V S Naipaul
27.                  Occasion For Loving, Nadine Gordimer
28.                  On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Ian Fleming
29.                  Orphans of the Sky, Robert A Heinlein
30.                  Podkayne of Mars, Robert A Heinlein
31.                  The Presidential Papers, Norman Mailer
32.                  Run River, Joan Didion
33.                  Sabaria, Gustav Rab
34.                  The Scent of Water, Elizabeth Goudge
35.                  Shoo Fly Girl, Lois Lenski
36.                  A Singular Man, J P Donleavy
37.                  Sister of the Bride, Beverly Cleary
38.                  The Tenants of Moonbloom, Edward Lewis Wallant
39.                  The Time of the Hero, Mario Vargas Llosa
40.                  The Unicorn, Iris Murdoch
41.                  V, Thomas Pynchon
42.                  Witch World, Andre Norton


Path to Power, LBJ #1, Robert A Caro
Means of Ascent, LBJ #2, Robert A Caro
Master of the Senate, LBJ #3, Robert A Caro
The Rebellious Life of  Mrs Rosa Parks, Jeanne Theoharis
The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson

Saturday, April 14, 2018


Orphans of the Sky, Robert A Heinlein, G P Putnam's Sons, 1963, 187 pp
I can hardly stand it that the last book I read from my 1963 list was by Heinlein, but it just worked out that way. Finishing the reading list for a year of My Big Fat Reading Project is such a milestone, such an accomplishment for me. Heinlein does not fit the solemnity of the moment but there you have it.
At least Orphans of the Sky was one of his good space yarns. A huge spaceship became lost between earth and its far away destination. It has been drifting for generations and the current inhabitants have never been anywhere else. They haven't even looked outside. The ship is their entire world while Earth and the ship's mission is just a myth to these people.

You can see why that is a brilliant concept for a plot and how he could work in all kinds of ideas about society, religion and government. It is thought provoking and entertaining because a couple people figure out how to restart the ship on its intended path.

I read three books by Heinlein for 1963. Two of them, Glory Road and this one, were great. Podkayne of Mars was the loser. 

So thanks Bob for the good times. I will see you again in 1964, a year when you only published one book; a year when Philip K Dick published six! I will be careful not to end that list with a PKD book.

Friday, April 13, 2018


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In the Darkroom, Susan Faludi, Henry Holt and Company, 2016, 417 pp
Susan Faludi has been has an award winning journalist, has written an acclaimed nonfiction work, Backlash, and is an all around intelligent woman. I knew the name but not much else. Thanks to my reading group, The Bookie Babes, I have now read her.
In the Darkroom is part memoir, part inquiry into the meaning of identity, part Hungarian history. Some of the reading group members found it overstuffed and I can't disagree. I also however found it moving as a memoir, thoughtful as to gender identity, and informative on Hungarian history.

Susan Faludi had an unhappy childhood, thanks to her father. He was moody, overbearing, and violent at times. He left her and her mother when Susan was a teen, leaving her with harbored resentment, grievances and hurt for many years. When she learned that he had undergone sex reassignment surgery at the age of 76, she began an investigation into his life. Though her father had been a successful photographer for the fashion and magazine industry in New York, he had returned to Budapest, Hungary, the city of his birth. Though the parent and daughter had maintained a relationship and correspondence, it was strained to say the least.

Many visits to Hungary ensued. Susan took a dual role as daughter and investigative reporter and gradually brought the hidden life of her now female father into view, much the way he had developed pictures in his darkroom. During those visits, it was most unsettling to read sentences like, "My father, she..." Also interesting to learn that Hungarian has no gender specific pronouns!

Though the story contains many emotions, the underlying theme is tragedy due to the horrific circumstances of the senior Faludi's childhood in Hungary under the Nazis and then under Communism. Even to this day the country is a political mess and antisemitism is rife. Susan's father was born Jewish but learned to survive by subterfuge and the ability to assume different identities.

The book is necessarily in part a study of the transgender phenomenon primarily through the views of psychiatry and medicine. I found that the least convincing aspect of the story. Her research seemed well done but came across as dry theories, not all of them credible to me. When she finally wove the whole tapestry together, the issues of identity, gender, war, loss and survival as played out in the life of one Jewish man who chose to become a woman, it developed into a deeply moving and personal story. 

Take a chance on a book, as we say in the Bookie Babes.

(In the Darkroom is available in various formats by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


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Master of the Senate, The Years of Lyndon Johnson #3, Robert A Caro, Alfred Knopf, 2002, 1040 pp
This volume of Robert A Caro's biography of Lyndon B Johnson was the longest so far. I began reading it in mid-November, 2017, mostly at the rate of 10 pages a day. I renewed it at the library as many times as allowed and finished it in a blaze of power reading 120 pages in two days. It is dense and sometimes repetitive. I feel like I have done a semester of Ivy League college level political science with Robert Caro as the professor. I am not however going to write a term paper!
Yet it was so worth reading. I am a wiser person for it. The whole experience of the three volumes I have now read has given me an understanding of a subject I never thought I even wanted to learn: American politics. Caro grabbed my lazy fiction reading mind by the lobes and dragged me kicking and screaming into an awareness of how democracy plays out in the United States federal government. I have always thought it was a dirty game and I still do, but when my country supposedly elected Donald Trump as POTUS, I knew I needed more knowledge if I was not going to become an anxiety-ridden old woman. Thank you Mr Caro.

Master of the Senate covers Johnson's 12 years in the Senate. Caro opens the book with a full 100 pages on the history of the Senate, another chunk of knowledge I had never considered. Seriously, our education system would do well to figure out a way to teach kids about all this while making it interesting and comprehensible.

After LBJ literally stole the election to become senator from Texas, he went on to learn hard lessons himself about how that body operated. At first, his old tricks were not working for him in such a hidebound, staid institution. Though Caro does not see the man as particularly ethical or principled, he does portray him as a political genius. That being the kind of genius needed to be a chess champion, with an ability to see the game many moves ahead and to read your opponent. Similar skills are also helpful in certain games of gambling. Finally, a good dose of ruthless determination to win, an understanding of publicity and the press, and very little moral compunction are required.

LBJ had and did all that. In the process  he single handedly changed the way the Senate worked, from a lethargic men's club into a wheeling dealing den of influence and trade offs. The man wanted to be President of the United States. Since he was essentially a Southern Democrat, he had a big problem to solve in those days and you can read all about how he solved it in this book.

All along in the earlier volumes and through most of this one, Caro had painted an unflattering picture of his subject but curiously, near the end of Master of the Senate, he seems to be changing his tune. He seeks to explain how this fairly despicable character actually gained a reputation for being a champion of Civil Rights. I was not wholly convinced.

At the end of the book, LBJ is about to enter the 1960 Democratic convention for the second time as a presidential candidate. The fourth volume, The Passage of Power, will tell how he came out of that as Vice President to John F Kennedy, thereby losing nearly all of the power he had built up as Majority Leader of the Senate and then, by a simple twist of fate, became President after the assassination.

I am eager to read all that and to learn how he went on to create the Great Society. Perhaps I too will come to admire the man. But not yet. I have been inside the mastermind of this tragic figure off and on for almost a year. I am taking a break. I will be back!

(Master of the Senate is available in both hardcover and paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

Monday, April 09, 2018


Witch World, Andre Norton, Ace Books, 1963, 173 pp
Another author, new to me. I decided to try her out after learning she is considered part of an almost forgotten triumvirate of women who were instrumental in developing science fiction and fantasy as it is today: Anne McCaffrey, C J Cherryh, and Andre Norton. I have read almost everything by Anne McCaffrey but until now nothing by the other two.
Another notable aspect of the three groundbreaking women is they felt no compunction about combining science fiction and fantasy in the same novels, something that had been a purist taboo. N K Jemisin, Charlie Jane Anders, Neal Stephenson and other current authors also combine magic and science. I like that.

Witch World begins with Simon Tregarth, a disgraced former Colonel in the World War II US Army, who is on the run. He meets a benefactor who escorts him through a portal into Witch World. Simon finds himself in this world of witches, decayed and super advanced science, and political intrigue. He knows none of the languages spoken there but aligns himself with one of the factions in its long running conflicts. As he fights with them he has to prove himself at every turn since he is from another world and they don't completely trust him at first. 

The reader shares his confusion for most of the book as he learns about his new world as he goes. Having recently read both The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate by N K Jemisin, I was fairly accustomed to a good deal of confusion, so I proceeded, if slowly. By the end of the book I was hooked as well as oriented and amazed.

I could say more about the plot but I will just be dastardly and let you suffer through as I did. Simon Tregarth is a fabulous character. So are the witches.

I do love and admire Anne McCaffrey (whom I met twice) but Andre Norton is a much more sophisticated world builder, perhaps a bridge between McCaffrey and the sadly, recently departed Ursula LeGuin. In any case, I will be following Andre Norton's books in My Big Fat Reading Project and checking out C J Cherryh soon.

(Witch World is the first of a trilogy. The books are out of print as single volumes but I found an omnibus copy of all three called The Gates to Witchworld at the library.)

Sunday, April 08, 2018


A Singular Man, J P Donleavy, Little Brown and Company, 1963, 352 pp
I was on the fence about including Donleavy's second novel on my 1963 reading list. I guess it was seeing somewhere on the web that his first novel, The Ginger Man, was Hunter S Thompson's favorite book that decided me. I know that does not make much sense, being the raging feminist that I am, but I am also a bit of an intellectual anarchist plus I don't hate men.
So I read A Singular Man and it was good, maybe almost amazing. George Smith is another character, like Sebastion Dangerfeld in The Ginger Man, who just can't fit in with society's expectations in terms of what makes a good man. Is that the basis of my attraction to J P Donleavy? Could be. The misfit equation.

George is an orphan, a failed husband and father, a stupendously successful business man and lonely as hell. He has enemies in the business world and truthfully he is a pussy grabber. I know, I know.

The writing style is a bit odd. Part stream of consciousness, part William Burroughs/Henry Miller cut-up smut. But it works. As I followed George through a pathetic winter in early 1960s New York City, I began to feel empathy for the guy. I got sentimental about him and his troubles even as I was laughing at his misadventures and feeling sorry for the women in the story.

His mysterious, tragic and unattainable lover, Miss Tomson, is almost on the level of Wonder Woman if Wonder Woman wore mink, drank like a fish, and was fabulously rich and famous in one of her guises. That does not make much sense either, unless you read the book.

After the disaster of how The Power was received at a recent reading group meeting, I have given quite a bit of thought to the battle of the sexes. (I saw that movie the other night. Great!) I am coming, somewhat begrudgingly, to the conclusion that just about every human problem comes down to a failure of empathy.

Why do people do the things they do? We can never really know, but there is always a reason. (That doesn't mean we should elect certain people to run our country though.) It is with annoyance and humility that I admit that a man, J P Donleavy, has given me another nudge in the direction of empathy.

Glad I read A Singular Man. I will keep reading this author. I always thought he was Irish, but he was Irish/American and lived in the United States. 

Thursday, April 05, 2018


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Call Me Zebra, Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, Houghton Miflin Harcourt, 2018, 292 pp
I don't imagine this novel is for everyone but I devoured it. I had never heard of it but it came to me in the mail from my subscription to The Nervous Breakdown Book Club as the March selection. The author was interviewed on the associated Other People podcast, so I knew her background and that just put me right into her unique story.
Zebra is a character who is now burned into my brain. She was born in 1982 in Mazandaran Province, Iran, near the Caspian Sea. Her father, a multilingual translator of great literature, taught her ten languages. He was the last male of four generations of self-taught poets, philosophers, and painters. His method of teaching the daughter who would carry on this line was memorization of long sections from the world's great literature. 

Zebra proved an apt and eager pupil who "picked up languages the way some people pick up viruses."

I don't know Iranian history. I have read about the Iranian Revolution of 1979 in Afar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran. I knew Iran and Iraq had a long war but the rest was a blur to me until President George Bush declared war on Iraq in 2003. If he had had this novel to read, he may have thought twice.

Sometime in the 1980s Zebra and her parents became refugees, fleeing Iran because her father was wanted for crimes against the state. During their treacherous flight, her mother died. Zebra and her father eventually made it to the United States where he died of old age and the sorrows of an exile. By that time Zebra was 22, still studying literature, and made nearly insane by the loss of her final parent.

The rest of the novel relates her method of dealing with it all. She wrote a manifesto containing all her beliefs about what she named The Matrix of Literature, a fascinating piece of philosophy in itself. With help from one of her professors she set off to retrace the steps of her exile as a means to honor her parents and to see if she could recover from her loss and grief. I wondered if all the literature carried in her mind would safeguard her or lead her into a deeper madness.

They did both. Her story is dense with references to literature and with her fragile mental and emotional state. I found Zebra a frustrating character but I also cared for her. Her lifestyle, so capricious and so desperate, made me fear for her while also wishing she could just get over herself. 

Ultimately I was thrown into the perils of what she and her family survived. Much of the last part of the story takes place in Barcelona, a city I always love to read about. It may seem that displaced people and unwanted refugees are a recent development but the novel made me remember that these conditions have gone on for time immemorial. Where Exit West by Moshin Hamid gave me the bare bones, Call Me Zebra gave me the details of how this one family was nearly destroyed by revolution and political turmoil in the Middle East. The author carries similar scars and I think recovered from her own traumas by writing this novel. 

(Call Me Zebra is available in hardcover by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

Wednesday, April 04, 2018


Adventures in discussing books continue this month. My only concern is the Jodi Picoult book because she is not exactly one of my go to authors, but The Bookie Babes is always top notch on discussions. We had a great one on In The Darkroom last month. 

Tina's Group:
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One Book At A Time:
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Bookie Babes:
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Molly's Group:
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If you are in a reading group, what are you discussing in April? If not, have you recently read a book you think would make for a good discussion?

Sunday, April 01, 2018


Happy Passover, Easter, and April Fool's Day!

Well, I managed to make my reading goal again! I read 12 books. I also finished the 1963 list for My Big Fat Reading Project ahead of my target. Reading truly is my superpower. 

Hard as I tried, I am still 7 books behind in posting reviews. You can expect extra posts for the next few weeks as I intend to catch up.

Stats: 12 books read. 9 fiction. 9 written by women. 5 for My Big Fat Reading Project. 4 speculative. 1 mystery. 2 Young Adult, 1 memoir, 1 biography.

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How did you enjoy your reading in March?