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Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More


The Accidental Activist is loosely based on the Mc Libel case in London that took place in the 1990’s.  Like the real case, the character, Suzie and other protesters took  on a big corporation distributing leaflets about their poor environmental practise and poor working conditions.  The corporation sued for libel.  Back then, people who were sued for libel were not given a public defender but this eventually changed because of this case.  

This is a story of courtroom drama with a bit of romance thrown in.  Matt was a computer geek who happened to meet Suzie by chance.  It was instant love.  When she got sued for Libel from a big oil corporation he found a way to help her with the assistance of his co-workers/ friends.  Back then, websites were very new but they developed a website to get the word out.  This was the first political website as far as it was known.  Matt and his co-workers were basically fired from their jobs for setting it up.

I couldn’t help but root for Matt and Suzie throughout the book and the courtroom drama was gripping.  It even had a bit of sardonic humor in it.  I would have liked to have seen a bit more character development but the story itself was great.  Alon Shalev has explained that he likes to write “transformational fiction where ordinary people are drawn into fighting a social injustice and in doing so experience a life-shifting internal change.”  He succeeded using Matt as his transformational character.

If you’re looking for a John Grisham like thriller that puts the main character in peril, this book is not for you.  However, if you want a well written courtroom drama with British humor and style, I highly recommend this book.

4/5

Please note that I am the coordinator of The Accidental Activist Tour but it in no way influenced my opinion of the book.  My review is my honest and true feelings of the book.  I was not paid for my review.

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Copyright 2007-2010: All the posts within this blog were originally posted by Teddy Rose and should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Wake of Forgiveness by Bruce Machart

Posted by Teddyrose@1 on January 12, 2011
Posted in Books Read in 2010  | 2 Comments

In February 1895 the wife of a Texas landowner, Vadav Skala , died while giving birth to their son, Karl.  Though Karl never knew his mother, he was haunted by thought of her throughout his life. 

Karl had three older brothers who helped to raise him.  Their father Vadav worked all of his sons hard.  He had wonderful horses that he pampered but it was the 4 brothers were the ones that pulled the plow in the fields, with their father cracking the whip.  In fact, Karl’s neck leaned to the left his entire life because of this.

Karl excelled in riding horses and his father made land bets against his neighbours with Karl riding.  Karl always won and was reward by not getting a beating.  One day a wealthy  Mexican man, makes a horse race bet with Vadav.  His daughter against Karl.  The outcome was for much more than land and would ultimately break the Skala apart.

Bruce Machart has been compared to William Faulkner and I can see the resemblance.   He captures the desolate landscape and greyness of the story quite like Faulkner would.   Here’s and example of his writing:

“He’d known land in his life that, before a few seasons of regular rainfall, had been hard enough to crack a plow point, and he knew that if, by stubbornness or circumstance, that earth became yours to farm, you’d do well to live with the constant understanding that, in time, absent the work of swollen clouds and providence, your boots would fall loudly, giving rise to dust, when you walked your fields.”

This is ultimately the story of the bond of family, forgiveness, and redemption.  It has sparse dialogue and lots of narrative.  I would have like more dialogue to break up the long narrative more. 

This is a book that is not to be rushed.  It must be treated like a fine wine and savoured for both the prose and the story.  It took me awhile to appreciate this story and see it’s merit.  I must have read a good 100 pages before I decided if I was going to finish it or not.  However, I am glad I stuck with it.  There many pearls to be discovered in the prose.  Machart is an author to watch!

Bruce Machart is the author of the novel, The Wake of Forgiveness, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in October of 2010, and a forthcoming collection of short stories entitled Men in the Making, due out from HMH in 2011. His fiction has been published in some of the country’s finest literary magazines, including Zoetrope: All-Story, Story, One Story, Five Points, Glimmer Train, and elsewhere. His short stories have been anthologized in Best Stories of the American West and Descant: Fifty Years. The winner of numerous awards and fellowships, Bruce is a graduate of the MFA program at The Ohio State University.

3,5/5

Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Net Galley for the eBook version of this book.
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The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace

Posted by Teddyrose@1 on January 6, 2011
Posted in Books Read in 2010  | 4 Comments

I finished listening to the audio version of this book a couple of months ago but have been putting off writing my review of it.  The plot is so scattered that I can’t even begin to tell it with my own words without making it sound even more scattered than it is.  So, I’m going to cheat and use the book description from Good Reads:
Published when Wallace was just twenty-four years old, The Broom of the System stunned critics and marked the emergence of an extraordinary new talent. At the center of this outlandishly funny, fiercely intelligent novel is the bewitching heroine, Lenore Stonecipher Beadsman. The year is 1990 and the place is a slightly altered Cleveland, Ohio. Lenore’s great-grandmother has disappeared with twenty-five other inmates of the Shaker Heights Nursing Home. Her beau, and boss, Rick Vigorous, is insanely jealous, and her cockatiel, Vlad the Impaler, has suddenly started spouting a mixture of psycho- babble, Auden, and the King James Bible. Ingenious and entertaining, this debut from one of the most innovative writers of his generation brilliantly explores the paradoxes of language, storytelling, and reality.

All the characters in this book seemed to all have serious issues and in need of therapy.  In fact, the main character, Lenore Beadsman did go to therapy, the same therapist that her boyfriend Rick Vigorous went to.  It turned out the therapist discussed Lenore with Rick which is totally against doctor/ patient confidentiality.  Not to mention that this therapist was so “out there” that he was in need of some serious counseling and probably meds as well.  LOL!

As I said above, this book went all over the map, in terms of plot.  So thick with multiple and sub-plots that it was difficult to follow at times.  However, it was so absurd that it was laugh out loud funny.  I listen to it in my car and noticed people staring at me at stop lights, because I was laughing, at times with tears in my eyes.  It had a “grown up” humor to it, surprising to me when I found out that Wallace was just 24 years old when he wrote it.

Although I do prefer a book with a concrete plot that I can follow.   I did enjoy this book at times.  It is full of vivid and quirky characters.  It was that and the humor,  that kept me listening to all 14 discs  audiobook.    Although, I may not have endured if I knew how it was to end.  Not only a disappointment but totally incomprehensible!  Perhaps I would have understood more of if I had read it?  Somehow I doubt it though.

2.5/5

Thanks to Anna Balasi of Hachette Book Group for this audiobook.

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Copyright 2007-2010: All the posts within this blog were originally posted by Teddy Rose and should not be reproduced without express written permission.