July 2018

Book Reviews

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spill simmer falter wither by Sara Baume. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2016. 274 pp.

This novel is about Ray and his dog One Eye. Ray does not fit into his world, but it is never clear exactly what is wrong with him. He was raised by his father and never knew of a mother. His father did leave him with a kind woman, when he worked, and she taught him how to read, but after his father died, he did not have much in his life. By chance, he saw a flyer for a dog with not much going for him either and he adopted him. And that’s the beginning of the story.

The title of the book which I can never seem to remember because it makes no sense, actually refers to the first letters of the title which make up the separate sections of the story. They are spring, summer, fall and winter.

The place is Ireland and is by the sea. Ray’s house looks out on the water, and Ray and One Eye can look out on a world that is passing them by. They do go out and walk on the beach. Things happen though and they have to leave. That is the beginning of the second section. Ray’s father had taught him how to drive so they just set out with not much of a plan. In the last section they come back to their town where their story ends.

Baume is an amazing                writer. You feel you are part of the book. Sometimes I feel I am writing it. It can be so sad and yet, of all the books I have read this is one of my favorites.

          –C.M.

Guard of Honor by James Gould Cozzens. Random House Inc. 1948. 614 pp.

This novel begins in September l943 as an Air Force plane approaches an army airbase in Florida. On board are some of the main characters. Major General Beal, the pilot, is the commander of the airbase, and the co-pilot is Lt. Colonel Carricker. Both of them are war heroes. Among the passengers are Colonel Norman Ross, a peacetime judge and Captain Nathaniel Hicks, a former magazine editor. As the plane is about to touch down, another plane swoops down and lands in front of them. A crash is narrowly avoided.

On the ground, Colonel Carricker furious, approaches the pilot of the other plane, who is black, and punches him in the face. What happens in the next three days is the plot of this book. The plane that nearly caused a crash brought a number of black officers to the base, and there will be trouble when these men are denied the use of the officers’ club. And what will be the consequences for Colonel Carricker who has been arrested for hitting the black pilot?

There are a number of other characters in the story and the author brings them all to life vividly as they react to what goes on during the three very tense days.

For me, this book was fascinating to read. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1949. –P.M

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