Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Library Loot ~ February 22-28

Ninety Minutes in Heaven:  A True Story of Death and Life ~ by Don Piper, 2004, memoir
When Don Piper's car collided with a semi-truck he was pronounced dead at the scene.  For the next 90 minutes, he experienced the glories of heaven.  Back on earth, a passing minister felt led to pray for the accident victim even though he was told Piper was dead.  Miraculously, Piper came back to life, and the pleasure of heaven was replaced by a long and painful recovery.
My friend Jane wants me to read this book so we can discuss it.  Since it was published eight years ago, I haven't had any particular desire to get it, but Jane has questions.  If you've read it, tell me what you think.

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty ~ by Joshilyn Jackson, 2012, fiction
Fifteen-year-old Mosey Slocumb — spirited, sassy, and on the cusp of womanhood — is shaken when a small grave is unearthed in the backyard, and determined to figure out why it's there.  Liza, her stroke-ravaged mother, is haunted by choices she made as a teenager.  But it is Jenny, Mosey's strong and big-hearted grandmother, whose maternal love braids together the strands of the women's shared past — and who will stop at nothing to defend their future.
The Invisible Ones ~ by Stef Penney, 2012, fiction
Small-time private investigator Ray Lovell veers between paralysis and delirium in a hospital bed.  But before the accident that landed him there, he'd been hired to find Rose Janko, the wife of a charismatic son of a traveling Gypsy family, who went missing seven years earlier.  Half Romany himself, Ray is well aware that he's been chosen more for his blood than his investigative skills.  Still, he's surprised by the intense hostility he encounters from the Jankos, who haven't had an easy past.  Touched by tragedy, they're either cursed or hiding a terrible secret — whose discovery Ray can't help suspecting is connected to Rose's disappearance.
Something Wendy @ Caribousmom said made me reserve this one at my library:
"Penney has a way of constructing her novels to provide tension.  This novel had me guessing right up until the end when Penney inserts a twist I did not see coming."
I Could Tell You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory ~ by Patricia Hampl, 1999, memoir
Memoir has become the signature genre of our age.  In this timely gathering, one of our most elegant practitioners explores the autobiographical writing that has enchanted or bedeviled her.  Patricia Hampl's topics include her family's response to her writing, the ethics of writing about family and friends, St. Augustine's Confessions, reflections on reading Walt Whitman during the Vietnam War, and an early experience reviewing Sylvia Plath.  The word that unites the impulse within all the pieces is "Remember!" -- a command that can be startling. For to remember is to make a pledge:  to the indelible experience of personal perception, and to history itself.
I do remember I discovered this one when Beth Kephart quoted from it, saying her students would be reading the first two chapters that week.  I put the book on reserve because of this section she shared.  Thanks, Beth.
Maybe a reader's love of memoir is less an intrusive lust for confession than a hankering for the intimacy of this first-person voice, the deeply satisfying sense of being spoken to privately.  More than a story, we want a voice speaking softly, urgently, in our ear.  Which is to say, to our heart.  That voice carries its implacable command, the ancient murmur that called out to me in the middle of the country in the middle of the war — remember, remember (I dare you, I tempt you).
Besides teaching and writing novels for young adults, Beth Kephart has also written several memoirs, which I wrote about in an earlier library loot post.

Library Loot is a weekly meme co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.  If you would like to share a list of the loot you brought home from the library, Marg has the Mister Linky this week.


Marg said...

Both the Jackson and Penney books are ones that I am kind of interested in reading after having read one of their earlier books but being a bit underwhelmed by.

Enjoy your loot!

Helen's Book Blog said...

A good detective novel is great, it looks like you have some good reads from the library!

Jan said...

I have been avoiding "Ninety Minutes in Heaven," though one of my friends really liked it, though she is not one I ask for book recommendations. I may try a few of the others, especially "The Invisible Ones." Thanks!

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Jan, I don't recommend 90 Minutes, so keep avoiding it. I finished the book last night and emailed Jane: "Rev. Piper just sort of muddles through, not being very precise about what he says." I'll write to you about it later (I probably won't review it).

Linda said...

I keep seeing a lot of good reviews about Joshilyn Jackson's books but have not read one yet. Enjoy your loot.

Christine said...

Hi Bonnie,
I've been eyeing the Jackson book for a few weeks now myself! I hope you like it!