More Book Quickies

Having just written part of this post and watching it disappear without reason, I am perturbed and unwilling to start from scratch – so I will abbreviate the listing of the books I have read over the past month –

  1.  “117 Days – An Account of Confinement and Interrogation Under the South African Ninety-Day Detention Law” by Ruth First (1963), anti-apartheid activist.  Worth reading.
  2.  “Married to a Bedouin” by Marguerite van Geldermalsen (2006), a New Zealander married to a man from Petra, the book recounting their lives from 1978 to 1985, a time when Petra’s Arab population were still living in the caves looking over the city, before they were relocated to close-by towns.  Very worth while reading.
  3. “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” by Gabrielle Zevin (2014), a pleasant, harmless novel about a bookseller in a small community on a Massachusetts island, who finds a toddler in his store, with a note from her mother (who later that day commits suicide) and decides to keep her.  Easy reading.
  4. “The Peddler’s Grandson: Growing Up Jewish in Mississippi” by Edward Cohen (1999), the story of a young man’s life  in Jackson MS.  Everyone has a story, and this one is no more interesting than most.  Probably not worth your time.
  5. “The Human Stain” by Philip Roth (2000).  I have decided to read a lot of Roth this year – this is the second after “Letting Go”.  The story of a “Jewish” professor who isn’t really Jewish at a New England college who gets in trouble by making a “racist” remark that really wasn’t racist.  The book is a bit too long, perhaps, but contains a sampling of Roth’s fine writing and has a intriguing story line.  I previously have seen the film made from this book, and can only say that the character Faunia in the book sure didn’t remind me of Nicole Kidman.  Worth reading.
  6. “Everyman” by Philip Roth (2006).  One of his shorter books, the story of a New Jersey jeweler that starts with his funeral and reaches back through the various mistakes of his life.  I really liked this one, although there were a few scenes I could have done without, and especially liked the structure.  I think the structure of a novel is one of Roth’s special gifts.  Definitely worth reading.
  7. “The Ghost Writer” by Philip Roth (1979).  The first of the nine Zuckerman books, this one introducing the young writer/alter ego, who is invited by well known Jewish writer E.I. Lonoff, to spend some time with him and his wife at his secluded home in the Massachusetts Berkshires, finding that idols are not always ideal. Very worth reading.
  8. “The Director” by David Ignatius (2014), a contemporary thriller about the CIA and related American intelligence agencies that turns out not to be too thrilling, in part because it was for me too complicated.  Too many agencies, too many players doing too many things.  And a very complicated rationale for all the havoc which was created.  I’d skip this one, if I were you.  (But maybe you’d feel differently?)

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