Author Archives: rachelreadsfiction

The Ice Storm

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Right away in Rick Moody’s The Ice Storm, I get a sense of what the author thinks of New Canaan, Connecticut ­— the novel’s setting:  It is “the most congenial and superficially calm of suburbs.  In the wealthiest state in the Northeast.  In the most affluent country on earth.”  And he places us in time:  “Three years shy of that… Read more »

Ghosts and Glass Slippers and Drugs — Oh My!

As Alice Hoffman’s novel, Skylight Confessions, opens, Seventeen-year-old Arlyn Singer has just lost her father to a long illness.  With no mother or siblings, Arlyn alone nursed him through his final days and listened to his stories about people he met during his career as a ferry boat captain.  Her favorite story is about a tribe in Connecticut who looked… Read more »

Connecticut and R. J. Julia Booksellers

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I know Connecticut is beautiful — from the countryside to the shore.  I’ve seen it myself.  My online search for an independent bookstore here pulls me to the shore and specifically to Madison, Connecticut, home of R. J. Julia Booksellers.  Find them here:  I fell in love with this bookstore as soon as I saw their website.  The masthead… Read more »

Reluctant to Leave Georgia

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I know this is a book blog.  And yet…  Whenever I mention books set in Georgia, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt, comes up.  I didn’t choose to read that book while passing through Georgia because it’s not, strictly speaking, a novel — it’s based on the true story of the shooting of a male… Read more »

Be Careful What You Wish For – Ravens by George Dawes Green

The Boatwright family is in trouble.  Creditor’s send bills to their workplaces, they’re in danger of losing their house to foreclosure, the mom, Patsy, has a drinking problem, the dad, Mitch, is religious, passive and ineffectual and their youngest son, Jase, is just a kid — clueless and mostly tuned into video games.  There may be some hope for their… Read more »

Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

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Wise Blood by Flannery O’Conner is a strange book.  In the Author’s Note to the Second Edition, she describes it as a comic novel dealing with matters of life and death, wherein protagonist, Hazel Motes, struggles with his faith in Jesus “like a monkey swinging back and forth in his brain.”   I found little comic in the novel. At the… Read more »

Southern Hospitality

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Southern Hospitality I have to admit that I’m kind of happy to be leaving the Northeast, if only for this brief stop in the South.   The South produces great literature, right?  I’m ready to find out — beginning with Georgia. Usually, when moving to a new state, I check out a map, look for a place that seems geographically interesting,… Read more »

Jernigan, by David Gates

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The protagonist in David Gates’ novel, Peter Jernigan, is a mess.  As the novel opens, he’s been up all night driving through the New Jersey snow.  The sun is up and blinding now as he makes his way to Uncle Fred’s camp.  He longs to get the car off the road, feed lots of wood into the stove to warm… Read more »

American Pastoral

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American Pastoral begins with a vignette from the narrator, Nathan “Skip” Zuckerman’s, youth.  It’s a story about another kid in their Jewish neighborhood in Newark, Seymour Levov, nicknamed “The Swede.”  The point is that Swede was no ordinary Jew,  he was blonde and blue-eyed, beautiful and athletic, the All-American Adonis who transcended the Jewish experience.  He was kind and unassuming,… Read more »

On to New Jersey

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I’m kind of reluctant to leave Pennsylvania, the rolling hills and beautiful, though coal mining damaged countryside to head off to New Jersey.  New Jersey?  Yeah, I have all sorts of preconceived notions about New Jersey even though I’m most familiar with the airport, having flown to New York via New Jersey from Seattle several times over the years —… Read more »