Voigt, Cynthia. Homecoming. New York: Aladdin Press, 1981.

Reason read: July is National Kids Book month. Reading Voigt in honor of the month.

Picture yourself as a teenager with three younger siblings. What would you do if your mother left all of you in a car in a mall parking lot to never came back? Dicey Tillerman faces that dilemma after she realizes her mother has been “shopping” way too long. A full night and day too long. Looking back on the events leading up to this abandonment, Dicey understands her mother had been planning this escape from her children carefully, almost deliberately. Making them memorize the address to their great-aunt’s house; packing them bag lunches. The days before her departure were full of signs Dicey somehow missed or didn’t want to believe. Now, armed with bag lunches and a few dollars, she must protect her little family of siblings. Shepherding them along country backroads, hiding in bushes, camping on deserted beaches, and scrimping and saving only to buy the bare necessities, Dicey navigates her way down the coast of Connecticut from Peewauket, Massachusetts to their great-aunt’s house, hoping mother will be there. This is an all-too-real tale of a mother overwhelmed by life. Her children are fighters, though. Each child will warm your heart with their various personalities.

Quotes to quote, “A lot of people had little bits of her life now, and they were tied to her now, or she was tied to them” (p 306).

Author fact: Voigt went to Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Book trivia: Homecoming is the first book in a series about the Tillerman family. I am only reading Homecoming and Dicey’s Song for the Challenge. Homecoming was also made into a movie in 1996.

Playlist: “Peggy-O,” “Water is Wide” by the Indigo Girls, “Greensleeves,” and “Who Will Sing for Me?” by the Stanley brothers.

Nancy said: Pearl did not say anything specific about Homecoming except to notate is is a good read for both boys and girls.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Best for Boys and Girls” (p 22).

Dingley Falls

 Malone, Michael. Dingley Falls. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovich, 1980.

I chose Dingley Falls in honor of National Author’s Day being in November. Nothing more random than that.

Even if you didn’t know anything about Michael Malone you would swear his novel, Dingley Falls, is supposed to be a script, or at least the backdrop, to a titillating, slightly scandalous soap opera. The town of Dingley Falls, fictitiously located somewhere in Connecticut, is teeming with odd characters with even more bizarre stories to tell. It is as if the entire community has digested some mild altering hallucinogenic that causes everyone to come unglued. To give a few examples, mild-mannered Mrs. Abernathy suddenly ends up under a tree in the pouring rain having wild sex with a poet she has just met; post mistress Mrs. Haig is forced to retire because of a bad heart. It’s not the job that is stressing her out, it’s a snapping, snarling dog who chases her home five nights a week; Headmaster Mr. Saar has trouble controlling his sexual appetite and will wind up handcuffed to a bed in a seedy motel in New York City, naked and dead, if he isn’t careful. Mrs. Ransom tries masturbation for the very first time only to have some stranger catch her in the act.
The list of characters goes on and on, so much so that Malone needed to list his crazy community individual by individual at the start of his book.

When you discover Michael Malone has years and year of experience as the senior writer for One Life to Live then Dingley Falls begins to make sense. The heightened drama, the outrageous characters, the never-ending bizarre situations in Dingley Falls suddenly become par for the course…just a little more graphic with the sex scenes and violence, the things you can’t show as vividly on daytime television.

Favorite lines: “The elderly shut-in bought a new car every year – each racier than the last – as if she thought she could outdrag death if she only had the horsepower” (p 94). “‘Did you know that until I drink this cup of coffee, anything you know is knowing too much?'” (p 145). “He drank in order to pose count; not like Walter Saar, to get in touch with who he was, but to stay out of touch with who he might have been” (p 157).

BookLust Twist: In Book Lust and More Book Lust. This is a popular book in Pearl’s world. First, from Book Lust in the chapter called, “Southern Fiction” (p 222). From More Book Lust in the chapter called, “Michael Malone: Too Good To Miss” (p 160).

July ’09 Was…

July ’09 was yesterday, but it was also a really fun month (despite the pool letting go). First there was meeting a friend for dinner and asking her to come work for me! Then there was Rebecca Correia’s Iron Horse show. Of course I rallied the troups (all 12 of us!) and we had a great time. I really need to blog about the three-way Kisa had with the girls and who can forget the Wicked Wally?
How could I forget Boston? The trip into the city was amazing because the company couldn’t have been more perfect. They caught the mandarin fish! I have a few pictures from the day of my way, but I’m dying to see theirs!
July was also the return to running. I am proud to say I logged 35.21 miles in July.

  • The Skull Mantra by Eliott Pattison ~ this one stayed with me for awhile. I think it should be a movie.
  • The Stillmeadow Raod by Gladys Taber ~ cute.
  • Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx ~ ugly.
  • The Enemy by Lee Child ~ fascinating. Can’t wait to read the others!
  • Morningside Heights by cheryl Mendelson ~ middle class society in Manhattan.
  • The Light That Failed by Rudyard Kipling ~ a little tough to get into at first.
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne ~ back to a classic!

For the fun of it:

  • Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman

I was supposed to read a couple of Early Review books but only one arrived in July. I will have to review it in August (I’m reading it now).

Stillmeadow Road

Taber, Gladys. The Stillmeadow Road. New York: Harper & Row, 1984.

This was first published in 1962 and reissued in 1984. I like books that make a comeback. It is 1960’s quaint. Whimsical, even. Taber has a way of writing that is light and airy. There is no other way to describe it. Well, maybe it just seemed that way since I read it along side Annie Proulx’s harsh Close Range: Wyoming Stories. Whereas Proulx is arid and brutal and ugly, Taber is lush and sweet and pretty. Like, for example, I found it interesting that Taber glossed over everything involving her good, good friend Jill. They lived at Stillmeadow together. They did everything together. Yet, when Jill dies there is only a paragraph or two dedicated to the tragedy. It almost seemed as if Taber was skirting around her friend’s illness and death as a way to avoid talking about what Jill really meant to her.
Stillmeadow Road is a time capsule memoir about a homestead in Connecticut that Taber purchases with her friend, Jill. It’s all about country living, each chapter separated by the seasons. Month by month Taber lovingly describes life in a farmhouse by the weather, what’s happening in nature, how humans react to it all. Her observations focus on the trees, flowers, animals, and condition of the house throughout the changing seasons. Why do squirrels stay active throughout the winter? Why does it rain during dog shows? Why are storm doors so ugly? At the same time Taber injects social commentary about raising children, dealing with death, being neighborly, sorting out religious beliefs, remembering childhood…the story jumps between country-life observation and spiritual introspection.

A couple of favorite parts: “I do not know whether this happens to everyone, but I always have channeled great shocks into as many smaller ones as I can think of” (p 167), and “I have discovered if you take two steps forward and slip back one, you are sill a step ahead, which is a cliche but a true one” (p 169).

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Cozies” (p 57).

Sleeping at the Oakdale

We went to see Trey Friday night. Last time we saw him at the Palace Theater two years ago (the Palace happens to be one of my all time favorite venues – right up there with the Calvin – but we decided to see T. somewhere different this time). The Oakdale would be on the top of my list if the Connecticut crowd was a little more alive and with it. Their lack of energy dragged us down – but more on that later.

It was supposed to be a 7:30pm show without an opener, but Trey true to form made us wait. I didn’t mind the hanging out part. People watching is always at a premium at anything hippie related. Plus, the Oakdale has some sort of texting entertainment going on. We could watch video screens of text messages – stuff like “wave your arms if you like so and so.” No one did.
There were a mix of ages and personalities roaming the aisles. Your standard Phish friendly hippies with hemp clothing and masses of dreadlocks, Remember-When Deadheads with tie dye tee shirts and corduroy overalls, College preps with baseball caps on backwards and baggy jeans, flowing dresses, bandannas and beads. Some lady lost her rock in the seats behind us. It got me wondering where I fit into all this. Maybe I have that peace-love-happiness hippie philosophy at heart when I prefer to be barefoot, refuse to wear a bra or comb my hair, but I’m not so sure.

Finally, Trey graced us with his presence and the crowd settled down, way down. His voice definitely sounded better than when we saw him last. And while the band wasn’t as big (no horns) they definitely put out some great sound. Except. Except the crowd seemed asleep on their feet. Clapping was polite, cheering was at a minimum. Even I didn’t really dance. I couldn’t spin in the aisles for fear of falling on my ass. I wasn’t stable in my row of seats. Rooted to the spot I was content to sway tree-like, occasionally pounding the hip that started to ache. Here’s what we heard:

Set I

  • Drifting
  • Tuesday
  • Sand
  • Peggy
  • Dark & Down
  • Money Love and Change
  • Sweet Dreams Melinda
  • Push on Through the Day

Set II

  • Light
  • Gotta Jiboo
  • Alaska
  • Shine
  • Windora Bug

Then we left. Yup. Maybe it was the lack of energy in the crowd. Maybe it was because we put in a long week at work. Maybe we’re just old…Here’s what we missed:

  • Burlap Sack & Pumps
  • Case of Ice & Snow (B’s crack cocaine song)
  • Dragonfly (the only song I wanted to hear & expected to hear)


  • Water in the Sky
  • Waste (the song I really, really wanted to hear but didn’t expect to)
  • First Tube (Farmhouse!)