Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Reviewer: Bill Moyers Journal, The Conversation Continues

Book Reviewer: Bill Moyers Journal, The Conversation Continues

Bill Moyers Journal, The Conversation Continues

Bill Moyers was a guest on Tavis Smiley recently. It was great to visit with Bill as I miss his PBS show, Bill Moyers Journal. His last show was in April/May 2010. His book, The Conversation Continues, brought back memories.
On TV, I thoroughly enjoyed Bill’s engaging conversations about current events. He spoke with authors, poets, artists, scholars, political figures, and diverse activists, to name a few. My favorite conversations were with writers. He not only asked profound questions, but he invited his audience inside the author’s homes where we witnessed their idiosyncrasies. What fun!
When Tavis interviewed Bill on his show to promote his new book, I relived the conversations from TV. If you have never seen Bill’s show, you will enjoy this book. The written conversations will allow you to feel like you are viewing the TV show from the comfort of your living room.
The book begins with an introduction conversation with Jon Stewart. I understood completely why Bill chose Jon to introduce his book. See if you agree when you read it. Altogether, there are 47 conversations in the book. As I read them, I recalled the conversations on TV. I remembered that some made such an impression on me that I purchased the books immediately after watching the show. For example, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot wrote a book called, The Third Chapter. She talked about her book in such detail that when I purchased the book, I was very disappointed. There was nothing knew, she said it all to Bill!
Another book I purchased was John Lithgow’s, The Poets’ Corner. John was so inspiring talking to Bill about specific poems that I knew I had to own the entire book. I also purchased the CD collection of the poems. These are not John’s poems, they are a collection of poems, or as John puts it, The One-And-Only Poetry Book For The Whole Family. On the CD the poems are read by John and very special guests, some I recognized, some I did not.
I purchased Susan Jacoby’s book, The Age of American Unreason. I had to purchase this book because I needed words on a page to help me understand the words she said to Bill!
I recommend this book, Bill Moyers Journal, The Conversation Continues, to readers of all ages. There is a conversation in it for everyone. Bill Moyer is an extraordinary journalist. It’s always nice to have a picture to go with a conversation and Bill includes this feature for each of his conversations. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

I was browsing the best seller books at the library when I saw this audiobook, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. The short paragraph summarizing the book looked intriguing. It was read by Carrington MacDuffie and I am so glad I checked it out.

This is the story of Ernest Hemingway told from his first wife’s point of view. Her name was Hadley Richardson. The couple met in Chicago in 1920, Hemingway was 21 and Hadley was 28. They married in 1921 and the marriage lasted for six years.

Hemingway suffered with what we call PTSD today. He also had family issues: an overbearing, judgmental mother, and a father who committed suicide. Hadley shared the same tragedy as her father also committed suicide. She was naïve and head over heels in love with Hemingway. She was his number one fan and supporter of his writing career.

Hadley sacrificed her dreams for Hemingway. They moved to Paris because Hemingway felt jealous that his peers were being recognized. They became friends with famous people, such as, Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The norm for the decade was to drink all day and into the night while enjoying the Jazz Age in Paris. They kept up with their new friends by partying, but never their financial status. They lived by what we call today, pay check to pay check.

Hemingway was a womanizer. The modern woman was hard for Hemingway to resist, even though he loved Hadley and their son very much. Most men had mistresses in Paris at that time and Hemingway was no exception. Eventually this is what led to the demise of their marriage. Hadley struggled too long with her decision to end the marriage. She became a stronger woman after the divorce.

Hemingway wed three more times after his divorce from Hadley. He never really loved another woman as much as he loved Hadley. He committed suicide at the age of sixty-two.

I love Paula McLain’s writing style. She waits to expose the secrets and thoughts of Hemingway and Hadley at just the right time throughout the story. It made the book enjoyable and I especially enjoyed listening to the audiobook.

This book has sparked my interest in reading more about Hemingway. This is the ultimate compliment to Paula McLain.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fall of Giants, Book One of the Century Trilogy, by Ken Follett

Fall of Giants is a gripping story about WWI taking place between the years 1911-1925. It encompasses the hell of war on the field as well as the hell families live at home. Ken Follett introduces his readers to many different families from America, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Austria, Russia, and Wales. The historical characters include presidents, kings and queens, earls and dukes, lords and ladies, and dukes and duchesses. Readers are able to experience the life of the famous as well as the life of the poor. We become privy to family secrets entangled in love/hate relationships.

There are many books written about WWI, so as a reviewer I don’t think it’s necessary to write about WWI facts. Having said that, readers need to remember this is a historical novel. We are at the mercy of the author as far as the accuracy of his research. Keeping this in mind we can enjoy a wonderful story with engaging characters.

At times I found myself thinking politics hasn’t changed. There was lying and cover ups during WWI and the same occurs in politics and government today. This is a well written historical novel and it makes reading and learning about WWI pleasant.

This is Ken Follett’s first book in his trilogy. WWII seems a likely second book. I look forward to following the lives of the characters from Fall of Giants as they live through yet another World War.

Book review by Mary Crocco