Tag Archives: book reviews

The Monday Book: BEWILDERMENT by Richard Powers

Janelle Bailey, teacher, AP exam reader, and former shopsitter for our bookstore, delivers the Monday book this week. It turns out not to be a favorite….

I definitely went into this expecting to be engaged and enthralled and breathing deeply, thinking differently about something–in that case never seeing trees quite the same–as had happened when I read The Overstory. That did not quite happen.

Oh, I will look at stars and space differently and think about some other things newly–grief, death, parenting and most especially through grief and death–as well, but I feel like lots of this book were just over my head or out of my own realms of keen interest and understanding, in parts, for me to fully appreciate it quite like I had expected to.

I DO love that the book is set in Madison, and I considered/wondered whether and if so when Powers had spent enough time there to understand these few Madison things: the farmers’ market and its offerings, the layout of some of the city, etc. And I found Theo and Robin and Aly to be interesting and compelling characters for the most part. I enjoyed spending this time with them.

I am not upset that I read it, I am just less confident that I will be totally “wowed” by every Richard Powers I pick up like I surely was by The Overstory.

Also and maybe a sidebar or irrelevant, but: I became more irritated by all of the things that were over my head scientifically when, in the very first pages the book gets completely wrong something that I just shared again recently is a peeve of mine: the misunderstanding of which year of life one enters on their birthday. This main character is turning 9 and so COMPLETING his ninth year of life (we celebrate a first birthday, the big “ONE,” when a child has completed their first year of life. Right??), not “eighth year” as the book states at least two different times. So I was fairly irritated the more that the book wanted me to get my head around science and even its more “sci-fi” aspects, when it kicks off with understanding age wrong. Argh!

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Filed under book reviews, Life reflections, publishing, reading

Those Lovely Moments

rosesFrom time to time authors get incredibly humbling messages about what their books have meant to people. Balancing out the egotism that follows these moments are the one-star reviews and snarky private messages. So please don’t get the idea that it’s all teacups and roses once you publish. 😉

But it is lovely to know that at some point in other people’s lives you’ve said something that counts. And this post from a Facebook friend this morning made me cry:

You saved my life last night! I got some bad news from a family member and I was really upset and could feel my heart pounding in my teeth so I figured there was not calmness going on in my body. It was bedtime and I knew I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep. My favorite things to do before bed is to read but I was just agitating too much! I thought, I need a good book that is all about hope, courage, persistence and yes scary times but coming out on the other side after walking with faith and hope to a new life. So I thought of rereading your book, “The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap.” It was a great decision because I became calm and hopeful that all would work out. Powerful stuff at midnight on an ordinary Thursday night! So thank you and I am looking to continuing the story today. Peace.

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, publishing, reading, small town USA, Uncategorized, writing