Wow! If you want a good look at race relations in the 1930s, this is your book. It takes place in the Sabine River bottoms–which occupy several hundred miles along the border between Louisiana and Texas, south of Shreveport to just north of the Gulf of Mexico. Somewhere I read that the Sabine also marks […]

I’ve never been a fan of horror. But I have enjoyed several of Stephen King’s forays outside the genre. This is one I’ll add to that list. King says he got the idea and started writing it in the early days of his career but quickly realized he didn’t have the time or the skills […]

I’m not sure what happened with this one. It was a great one for setting–Frazier gives us some fabulous descriptions of North Carolina. And it’s not just the area around Cold Mountain itself–Inman walks away from the hospital where he is recovering, across much of the state. But I lost interest in the story pretty […]

This was an accidental choice, but it’s turned out to be a fairly happy accident. Which is a bit of a coincidence, as the book was accidentally announced as a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Despite the error having been made internally, Myracle had to withdraw from the contest. […]

Idaho has been full of odd contrasts. Ruth Ozeki’s All Over Creation was preachy and full of shallow stereotypes of Idaho and its people. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson was a depressing, maddening, but lovely bit of prose that (hopefully) is not terribly revealing about the people of Idaho while being full of gorgeous descriptions of […]

I can see why this book won the 1963 National Book Award, and why it’s considered a classic for the disillusioned working class–think inept colleagues, vindictive superiors, and fruitless and boring busywork with Father Urban as a successful, charming, handsome traveling salesman. It is a slow build to its comic climax, and it is more […]

Between, Georgia has the most Southern stereotypes of any of the Georgia books we’ve read so far. It is also the only Southern Gothic book we’ve read so far. (Though A Cry of Angels by Jeff Fields fits that category as well.) I am reading my way across the USA–5 or so books set in each […]

Wow! Haven’s Wake by Ladette Randolph (2013) was phenomenal for my reading challenge. I’m reading my way across the USA, focusing on books with a strong sense of place that help me “get to know” each state–the landscape, the people, the culture, the history. Haven’s Wake was a perfect choice for Nebraska. That year the […]

Photograph © Andrew Dunn, 13 May 2005.

Raintree County by Ross Lockridge, Jr. was an excellent book for my reading challenge. Take a look at some of the passages below, and you’ll see a small portion of how Lockridge describes Raintree County in west central Indiana. This first one is a description of a book within a book–an illustrated atlas of Raintree […]

As I worked my way through my picks for Kansas, I began to wonder about the differences between Kansas and its neighboring states, and I decided to stay in the area for a while longer. So I’m going to be reading Nebraska next. I was also interested in the “bleakness” and “mean spirit” I saw […]