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Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

NoViolet Bulawayo grew up in Zimbabwe, where her 2013 debut novel, We Need New Names, opens. Darling, a ten year old girl, spends her days with a small group of friends, stealing guavas in wealthy neighborhoods, playing games in the dust of Paradise, the collection of shacks where their families started over after their middle class neighborhood was bulldozed. Darling can remember their previous life, when her parents had jobs, and she went to school. It’s the early 2000’s; the children play “Find bin Laden,” and one character who dies in political unrest has a sign on his grave that lists his date of death as 2008. The story follows Darling for a few years, from Paradise, where her grandmother turns to God as interpreted by a preacher named Prophet Revelations Bitchington Mborro, to Michigan, where her mother’s twin sister, Aunt Fostalina, lives.

I chose this book from a display at my library of books with yellow covers, one of the categories in our summer reading program’s book bingo. I usually like novels about places I haven’t been and lives I haven’t experienced.  Although it’s fiction, this book is firmly rooted in reality, and for a privileged white reader, it’s pretty uncomfortable. People from NGOs and the BBC watch and photograph Darling and her friends and their families, as if they are an exotic species. Americans are clueless and judgmental about African countries and cultures. And of course, our immigration system denies people the new life they hope for; even as various people feel sorry for what’s happening in Zimbabwe, the African immigrants in the book work menial jobs, regardless of how educated they are. They can’t go home, because without official resident status they won’t be allowed to come back to their homes and work — and their American born children. The way Bulawayo portrayed whites caused me to feel as if I didn’t really even deserve to be reading Darlings’s story.

Although reading about the poverty, violence, and pain of Darling’s early childhood is tough — she has a friend her age whose grandfather rapes and impregnates her, her own father returns from South Africa, where he went to try and find work, when he is in the final stages of AIDS, Darling and her friends watch a group of young black men smash up a wealthy white couple’s home — the despair she feels in America is worse. Her family in Zimbabwe pressures her to tell her aunt they need money for a satellite dish; they are living in a nice house now, that Aunt Fostalina has purchased by working two jobs and getting herself into credit card debt. Darling has begun working two low wage jobs herself. Towards the end of the book, she tries to Skype with her mother and the only person home seems to be her old friend Chipo, who named her baby after Darling, but who scorns her now, telling her Zimbabwe is not her country because she left.

Of course, Darling didn’t choose, her mother and aunt decided she would go to America, and in America, adults — either those she knows or those who created the laws and cultural norms that influence her young life — decide much of what she does. The ending is a flashback to a painful memory seared in Darling’s mind, from her early days in Paradise. This has the effect of illustrating what a circle of futility Darling’s life has been to this point. She thinks she has not been at home since the time when her family was stable and safe. She is not home in the place that was meant to offer a new beginning. She can’t go back to the home she left, where her heart seems to remain.

Bulawayo conveys all that longing and unfulfilled promise and the geopolitical and cultural mess the adults in Darling’s world have unthinkingly unleashed upon her generation. She writes Darling’s voice as a small girl and then as a young adolescent and finally as the book ends, as a young woman. Darling, like many children, often thinks figuratively, as in this passage describing mourners at a political activist’s funeral, who had only recently been praying after the election: “They were awesome to see, and when they were in full form, their noise lit Fambeki like a burning bush, songs and chants and sermons and prayers rising to the heavens before tumbling down the mountain like rocks, mauling whoever happened to pass by. And when afterwards no change came, the voices of the worshipers folded like a butterfly’s wings, and the worshippers trickled down Fambeki like broken bones and dragged themselves away, but now they are back like God didn’t even ignore them that time.” A book I’m glad I read for the same reason I exercise — I know it’s good for me, even when it’s hard.

 

 

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Nils Uddenberg is “a retired professor of medical psychology,” and when he was in his early 70’s, a cat made itself welcome in his garden shed. This little book is the story of how Uddenberg and his wife “have ‘come down with cat.'” Kitty, as they name her, is “a small, gray-brown speckled cat” with “large, yellow eyes.” Despite not wanting a pet, least of all a cat, Uddenberg notes, “With her determined approaches the cat had shown a measure of faith in us, which I found it difficult to be unmoved by.”

Sprinkled with natural history, psychology, literary cat references (T.S. Eliot, Doris Lessing, Jean Cocteau), tidbits about Sweden and Uddenberg’s interests (including travel to Africa and classical music), and illustrated with beautiful, whimsical drawing by Ana Gustavsson, The Old Man and the Cat: A Love Story is a lovely way to spend a couple of evenings. Like life with a cat, it’s cozy, warm, pleasant, entertaining, and edifying. Uddenberg’s clear admiration for the little creature is endearing, as is his honesty about his own reluctance to have a cat at first, the disruptions to his routine and even his need to adapt in some ways to life with Kitty. For example, he admits finding her hunting disruptive and even a little repugnant, but he understands it’s in Kitty’s nature; he and his wife stop filling birdfeeders so that Kitty will hunt mice rather than songbirds.

Uddenberg is a keen observer of animal and human nature and he writes eloquently about what it means to have a cat in his life. “Kitty has become a part of of our lives, and vice versa. Not because we understand one another, but because we quite enjoy our time together. . . . For me, it has become a philosophical challenge to try to understand at least a little about her world.” Readers are the fortunate recipients of this challenge.

 

 

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As I look over what I read in June, I realize a common theme is characters who come to terms (with varying degrees of success) with life as it is, rather than life as a series of expectations and desires, met or unmet. I found this thread despite the variety of books I read, which seems to me to prove the Bookconcious Theory of Interconnectedness — that any examined reading list will reveal connections. I’m never sure if I gravitate towards books which really have a common theme or if I find things in common among them. Regardless, I enjoy contemplating such things.

In June, I revisited favorite authors of popular fiction (Maeve Binchy & Alexander McCall Smith), and also read a new book by a literary talent who deserves far greater recognition (David Schmahmann), as well as one whose new book received widespread praise (Geraldine Brooks). Rebecca Makkai‘s debut novel and Abraham Verghese‘s first novel (thought not his first book) were both interesting reads, as was Ann Joslin Williams‘ much anticipated new novel. And I read a forthcoming work by Christian McEwen on creativity and slowing down which is a well written, sensible, very thorough book that will appeal to a many writers and artists and also felt like a personal message from the universe telling me to act on the mindful advice McEwen offers.

I’ll begin with Binchy & McCall Smith. Both of their new books re-visit old locations and feature familiar characters. Binchy’s book, Minding Frankie, is set in Dublin and mentions some of the fictional businesses and restaurants, and a few characters, that have featured in her earlier novels. The main character, Noel, is a young man descending into alcoholism when the book opens. He’s in a dead end job, with no prospects and little hope, and his relationship with his devout parents is dysfunctional. Then he learns he’s going to be a father, and the mother is dying, and through his determination to be a good dad to baby Frankie, he turns his life around.

Binchy’s book is filled with a host of minor characters, as well as the kind of no nonsense middle aged woman who so often helps right the paths of her characters’  lives. Emily, Noel’s American cousin, plays that role, and she manages to transform the lives of everyone she meets when she comes to Dublin to see where he father grew up. Emily is perpetually optimistic — she can look at the least promising situations and see potential. Her can-do attitude and the natural affection she feels for everyone, even a neurotic social worker who threatens to undo Noel’s progress, brings out the best in people.

Noel can’t see past his mire of unfulfilled expectations when Minding Frankie opens. Another character can’t see that the playboy restaurateur she’s pinning all her personal and professional hopes on is unreliable. Moira, the social worker with her own baggage, is clouded by her cold upbringing and some fairly stereotyped feelings about the kinds of people she is supposed to be helping. As in her other books, Binchy draws readers in and then offers a few surprises as the characters’ develop. Some of the plot twists are a bit predictable, and there are readers who think Binchy’s books are too full of uplifting plot lines, but there are a few unredeemed jerks sprinkled among the reformed alcoholics and wisened-up career girls, and Binchy’s Dublin is a pleasant place to spend an evening.

I’m not a rabid mystery fan, but I’ve always enjoyed Alexander McCall Smith’s series, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. The newest title, The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, was interesting, because it contained a mystery which Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s famous lady detective, doesn’t really solve. This is partly because the people involved each have a different view of the situation, and their perspectives muddle the truth. Precious muses that regardless of what happened, some situations are best resolved with a little bit of diplomacy and a lot of compassion. I enjoyed the  ambiguity. I also love the feeling of armchair travel I get when reading this series as well — Botswana comes to life on the page.

An armchair roadtrip in a novel, The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai is a thought provoking look at cultural perceptions, and a fun read. Lucy, a children’s librarian, and Ian, a ten year old library regular, have an unlikely adventure when Ian runs away from home and they accidentally embark on a car trip together. A quirky story, rich with memorable characters, The Borrower combines humor, social commentary, and plenty of references to favorite children’s books.

As Lucy tries to understand how Ian is impacted by his family’s strict beliefs, she also examines how her own family history is informing her young adulthood. Makkai delivers a well-written, entertaining read with an interesting look at the kaleidoscope of contemporary American culture. She deftly explores the ways family stories are often told and re-told differently, and the ways childhood memories of family lore can add another layer of perception that may color the truth at their core. Lucy openly muses that what’s real and true may depend on how you look at a story, and who’s doing the looking.

Cutting for Stone is another book full of misunderstandings based on the assumptions people make about each other, and the way different points of view can slant the story. It’s also a very detailed novel rich in descriptions of life in an Ethiopian charity hospital. The characters, setting, and medical procedures make this novel teem with sensory texture. It’s also a fascinating story, a bit fantastic at times, but compelling.

Abraham Verghese writes beautifully, and as a doctor who grew up in Ethiopia, he is able to show readers exactly what his characters are going through. In fact, a few times it was too much for me, and I’ve told the Computer Scientist he can never read this book (he nearly fainted at the sight of the needle when Teen the Younger was on her way and an anesthesiologist gave me an epidural). Still, this is not medical voyeurism — the book is about doctors, and the work they do, and the detail enriches the reader’s view into their world. It’s also about family and home, love and belonging, and the ways that even in a strange place under challenging circumstances, we can make those things for each other.

Another novel that really brings hardship into sharp focus is Caleb’s Crossing. Geraldine Brooks has written wonderfully researched historical novels before. This one really made me appreciate the incredible challenges to survival early American settlers faced. Brooks also does a marvelous job of bringing to life a Native American (the Caleb of the title, based on a real young man) who grew up trying to keep one foot in both his own culture and the newly dominant settler world. I was intrigued by the details about opposing theological viewpoints between ministers on Martha’s Vinyard and the mainland, and the peek into 17th century Harvard. As in earlier books, Brooks presents readers with a complex, intelligent heroine. I was fascinated by Bethia Mayfield’s imagined life.

Despite her hardships, Bethia Mayfield leads a mostly happy life. Not so the hero of David Schmahmann’s new novel, The Double Life of Alfred Buber. I’ve enjoyed two of Schmahmann’s earlier books (and reviewed Empire Settings and Nibble & Kuhn), and have a 3rd on my to-read list. Nothing prepared me for Buber. This book is literary fiction at it’s best — taut, well crafted, lovely prose, thoroughly engaging, which draws you into the character’s strange new world and leaves your reading landscape forever altered.

Alfred Buber is living inside his own head.  Throughout the book, which is written in the first person from his point of view, the reader can’t quite tell what’s really happening or what he is imagining. His perceptions and his idea of how others perceive him weave in and out with the actual arc of events until the end of the book, when he muses, “If there is penance to be made for anything it may rest in the exposure of my frailty, and in my invitation to you to look deep into the breach and to see and make of it what you will. I regret everything and I regret nothing. I am a man, simply that, and you will either understand or you will not.”

Buber has had what a news report would call a “difficult childhood,” and he becomes a self-made man, pursuing his education, working his way up to the height of power in a stodgy law firm, building himself a magnificent home. But all of the exterior evidence of his success hides a lonely, insecure, socially inept life lived in the shadow of his professional persona.  Part of his secret life includes a penchant for illicit sex which leads him to an obsession with a prostitute in Asia. He draws her into his imagined life, where he struggles to understand his own capacity for love and meaning.  His fantasy world brings him to a breaking point just as the rest of his carefully groomed world is falling apart.

Buber isn’t a very sympathetic hero.  But somehow Schmahmann makes us care what happens to him, makes us consider the victim and the victimized in another light, makes us wonder how an emotionally broken person can ever grow into a healthy one. There are some plot twists I don’t want to give away, but as a teaser I’ll say the book is meant to be Buber’s attempt to put his story down on paper for a person important to his identity, to redeem himself by telling the truth as best he knows how.  It’s a brilliant way of bringing this tragic figure into the faintest light of hope.

The last novel I read this month is Down from Cascom Mountain, by Ann Joslin Williams. Much of the press surrounding this debut novel mentions Williams’ decision to locate her story in the same fictional world as her late father’s work, including his National Book Award winning novel, The Hair of Harold Roux. I haven’t read that book (yet, it’s in my to-read pile), but I enjoyed Down From Cascom Mountain on its own merits.  The fictional mountain is in New Hampshire, and the story centers on Mary Hall, a newlywed who is widowed not long after returning to her childhood home hear Cascom.

Through her interactions with the summer staff at the hiking lodge nearby, and a family she knows from childhood, Mary processes her brief but happy relationship, her grief, and her way forward. Several of the characters seemed to me to have the potential to stand alone in their own stories, so I look forward to asking Williams if she imagines she’ll revisit them in future books.  She definitely brings the landscape to life, and anyone familiar with New England mountains will find much to recognize.  Down from Cascom Mountain is a thoughtful, emotionally taut examination of grief, friendship, and human chemistry.  It would prompt interesting discussion for a book club.

Finally this month, I read a book that won’t be out until September but which I highly recommend already, Christian McEwen’s World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down.  It felt like I was receiving a divine message to stay mindful when this book arrived unbidden in my mailbox not long after I heard Lama Surya Das talk and read his book (buddha standard time).  McEwen writes beautiful, sinuous prose, and her research is a delight — the reading lists for each chapter could supply a person with “to-read” piles for life.  She quotes writers and artists to support her thesis that “slow creativity,” like slow food, is about appreciating the process and releasing the cultural admonition to “do it all, now.”

Each chapter ends with a couple of quotes and some ideas for ways to implement the slowing down process as a creative tool.  I’m keeping this book on my nightstand where I can draw on its wise council whenever I need to.  Like many good books I love, this one made me feel I was sitting down over a cup of tea with a friend who knows my quirks and likes me anyway.

The Computer Scientist finished reading Townie by Andre Dubus III and he says it is a “gritty memoir that I found insightful and honest. Dubus tells the difficult tale of growing up in Southie without shying away from the details. I especially felt that the strong narrative matured in style as Dubus himself started to get his life sorted as he wanted. Any fan of Dubus’ writing will want to read this book.”  Also, Gibson’s customers know, Andre is the nicest man in the publishing world.  We’ve had him to the store twice since I’ve been there, and he’s just a warm, kind person, and wicked smart.

Teen the Elder spent his first month as a grad reading The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science, by Richard Holmes. He says he enjoyed it because it was  a biography of the scientists as well as a history of their work. His sister gave him a pile of books about English culture and British language, which I imagine he’ll read as the departure for his gap year approaches.  This week he’s mostly read visa application instructions. I believe I heard him refer to those today as “gobbledygook.”

Teen the Younger is facing the consequences of reading several books at once — she’s still reading them. But she did devour another large stack of Manga this month, including a number of volumes of Vampire Knight.  She reads Shonen Jump, New Moon, Muse, American Girl, and Cicada, too, so she’s also inherited her parents’ affection for periodicals.

In our reading piles?  I can’t speak for the rest of the bookconscious household, who are actually all asleep as I type. But I’ve started Kosher Chinese by Michael Levy, and I’ve got several other books lined up. In fact, I have multiple “to-read” piles, if I’m honest. A friend recently told me about a vacation she and her husband took before they had children in which she read seven books in seven days. I tried to imagine such a thing. And to stay in the moment, here, in my busy, messy life where I snatch reading time when I can.

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In between following campaign hooey, congressional shenanigans, stock market dives, and the intricate schedules of the four members of the bookconscious household, I took comfort in fiction and poetry this month. I suppose much of what passes for news is at least semi-fictional these days as well, although pundits refer to that kind of fiction as “spin,” but when the current events fiction gets to be too much, there’s nothing like losing yourself in a good book for a little while.

I also find that lengthy nonfiction doesn’t lend itself to reading in brief snatches of time — when I’m waiting for my daughter to get out of art class, for example, or I’ve arrived at my son’s soccer game a little early. A chapter of a novel or a poem is a pleasant diversion when I find myself waiting. I admit I am the kind of person who finds it hard to sit and do nothing if I have a spare ten or fifteen minutes, and I almost always leave the house with a book, a poetry journal, and an issue of one of the magazines I read regularly (The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, National Geographic, Science News, or Cooking Light).

In a summer post I mentioned taking Jon Kabat Zinn’s Wherever You Go, There You Are with me on vacation. I’m still reading it, bit by bit, and I sometime actually just sit and try to be mindful when I am waiting. But I admit, I still bring reading wherever I go — wherever I am, there I read.

Last spring, I attended the NH Writers’ Project Writers’ Day, and one of the sessions I took was called “Zen and the Writing Marathon,” given by Katherine Towler. I enjoyed her practical, mindful advice, and made a note to read her novels. This month I read the first two in her trilogy (the third won’t be out until 2009), Snow Island and Evening Ferry. It was interesting to read these books after hearing the author talk about writing them.

Snow Island is set in the 1940’s, and the events of the book lead up to America’s entry into the war. At the end of the novel, we know the post-war fate of a couple of characters. The book centers around a young woman, one of three kids about to graduate from her tiny island school, Alice. Besides trying to find her way as she reaches adulthood, Alice is running the store her widowed mother can’t handle alone, offering new ideas like delivery and fresh produce to her customers.

While Alice is the central character, we get to know the other year round island families and my favorite thing about Towler’s writing is that every character, no matter how minor, is visible to me as I read. Same goes for the settings — both the island and the mainland town that is so nearby but in many ways almost foreign to the islanders are easy for me to see. I don’t want to give away the plot of the book, so I won’t go into much detail, but if you like historical fiction or coming of age stories, Snow Island is simple but beautiful, true without being overbearing in its “truthiness,” and satisfying but not in any way sappy.

I went back to the library for Evening Ferry even before I finished Snow Island. I remember as a child checking out a stack of books by the same author, like the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle stories, or a series like Madeleine L’Engle‘s Time Quartet, and enjoying the feeling that even as I savored one book, the other was right there waiting for me. When my own kids were little, I remember finishing one Narnia book and hurrying to the library for the next, checking out two at a time so we would be able to keep reading.

As a grown up, I went through a long dry spell of not reading much (believe it or not!) and when I returned to books, I read the John LeCarre Smiley novels all in a row, complements of my Grandmother. Not too long after, I decided to read the entire A Dance to the Music of Time series by Anthony Powell — twelve novels — checking out 2-4 volumes at a time so I wouldn’t ever find myself at the end of one without the next one on my nightstand. Somehow knowing the story won’t end without my being able to pick up the next thread is very satisfying, and was one of the worst things about falling in love with the Harry Potter books as J.K. Rowling was still writing them; the kids and I would feel mournful knowing we had a couple of years to wait and see how the problem at the end of each volume would resolve itself in the next!

Thankfully, Snow Island and Evening Ferry don’t end in cliffhangers, and the emotional resolution of each novel is tidy enough to allow the reader some closure without being pat or forced. So I can wait patiently until the third book is published. One reason I enjoyed Evening Ferry so much was that is didn’t follow a neat “sequel” pattern. Towler revisits Snow Island and brings back some of the characters from the first novel, but Alice is a minor character this time, and the main character is of another generation.

Evening Ferry is also set against the backdrop of war, this time Vietnam. Towler’s focus, however, is Rachel’s struggle to reconcile her religious upbringing with the turmoil of her own life, as a divorced woman returning to the island to care for her injured father. It’s a book about relationships, religion, and growing up, as well as a historical novel, but while Snow Island dealt with the transition from youth to adulthood, Evening Ferry describes the awkward growing up adults do when they reverse caregiving roles with their parents.

Towler also nails the uncomfortable process of looking back at childhood through adult eyes. As a novelist looks through her character’s eyes, so Rachel looks through her mother’s eyes as she reads her journals, and later looks through her father’s eyes as she begins to order her own memories and her mother’s. Towler doesn’t let any of the characters off the hook — she bares all of their flaws. But they are characters easy to like and empathize with, and I look forward to finding out about another generation of Snow islanders in her next book.

For my birthday in late September, Steve and the kids gave me a new book I was looking forward to: the latest collection by one of my favorite poets, Billy Collins, called Ballistics. I enjoyed it very much and shared one of my favorites, called “Hippos on Holiday,” with my brother and sister-in-law, whose online home is dozinghippo. “Ornithography,” which speculates on the messages in birds’ prints on the snow, is another I really liked. Several poems in this collection are about writing and language, and no one makes a wry observation as poetically as Collins does. In my poembound blog, I wrote about workshops with teenagers, and found that Collins is one poet every kid responds to — he just gets life so perfectly, and tells it truthfully in a way that hits you as both timelessly wise and entirely new.

Collins and Donald Hall, who has a new memoir out, were on the Diane Rehm show recently. I heard Hall read from his new book at Gibson’s in Concord a couple of weeks ago. I last saw Hall at the Poets Three reading last fall, and he told the audience about a difficult period he’d only recently emerged from, during which he could not write poems. He seemed tired then, and to hear him read this time, in fine spirits and as eloquent as I remembered from earlier readings, was a delight.

Isn’t that one of the reasons we read: to be delighted? Chaim Potok is a writer whose work rings with delight — no matter the struggle of his characters, they are vividly alive, and you know that the author who brought them to life took pleasure in knowing them. I read The Chosen last year, and recently read Old Men at Midnight, a book of three novellas, linked by a common character. Each of the three stories could stand alone, but together they build powerfully, each piece adding another layer of observation, until the reader sees that Potok’s book is as much about story as a primal human experience as it is about particular human characters in places and historical moments.

A book that is centered on people living with the challenges of our time, in the midst of the AIDS epidemic in Africa, caught my eye at my public library a few weeks ago. Father Michael’s Lottery wasn’t a great novel; the midsection dragged along enough that I actually skipped a few chapters. But I didn’t put it aside, because I was fascinated by the main character, a doctor named Morgan who is a Hawkeye type renegade, putting patients before administrative rules or cost benefit analysis. You wouldn’t think a novel about such a depressing real life topic could be funny, but this one is, which added to its charm.

Author Johan Steyn is a doctor in Botswana, and his descriptions put me there in the hallways with his doctors, or in the bush with Morgan as he tries to let his anger at what his patients are suffering go. This vivid detail is one of the book’s best assets, as well as the humanity and warmth of the characters. The reader has a sense of where the story is headed, but I was surprised nonetheless by some of the details and without giving much away, I hope that since Steyn wrote the book some of the figures he had in mind have changed, especially the cost of anti-retroviral treatment. Steyn could have headed for a clear cut happy ending, but instead lets the book close on a hopeful but not overly tidy note, which seemed far more effective than if he’d wrapped up such a serious topic with complete closure.

Speaking of closure, I am slogging my way through American Bloomsbury. I would have put it down by now, except I really like Gibson’s book club and it’s the next selection we’re discussing. I enjoy the subject matter — the community of writers and thinkers living in Concord, MA in the mid 1800’s. In fact, the kids and I learned about Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott last spring and still intend to visit Concord to see where these amazing Americans lived and worked. So, why am I finding it hard to finish this book?

It dawned on me last night, as I forced my way through another of the short chapters between the end of the final presidential debate and the beginning of The Daily Show. American Bloomsbury is just like the infuriating campaign news coverage. Plenty of sound bites, plenty of speculative punditry, little bits of facts spun into a picture that looks complete if you don’t look too closely and see where it’s unraveling.

Author Susan Cheever tells readers right up front she is going to revisit events over and over because she wants to tell us about them from different people’s perspectives, but the effect is that you feel the book is never moving forward. A combination of the choppy style and overt projections of the author’s views or experiences on the historical narrative, marked by Cheever’s gossipy questions, add to the disjointed feeling. The final straw was reading that Plymouth, NH, is at the “head” of Squam Lake, when in fact it’s not on the lake at all. When a book contains such a silly error, it’s hard not to wonder what other facts went unchecked.

If I want unchecked facts, I can just tune in for three more weeks to campaign hooey. But in the interest of sleeping well, I think instead I’ll keep reading books.

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