Edson

Morrissey, Bill. Edson. Alfred A. Knopf, 1996.

Reason read: June is the month a lot of small towns celebrate different things. Just yesterday Kisa and I went to an asparagus festival.

While I was reading Edson I had the sense that the town and the story of the main character were partly autobiographical in nature. Center stage is Edson, a small New Hampshire town with a cast of quirky characters. Most intriguing is former singer/songwriter Henry Corvine. Recently returned after a divorce and a disastrous stint on a fishing boat in Ketchikan, Alaska, Henry didn’t want the divorce and he couldn’t maintain even the smallest passion for the ocean. Acting as his refuge, Edson is where Henry returns to start over. Doing just what, he doesn’t know. The tiny town of Edson is brimming with other characters, including Caroline, a young waitress with her eye on bigger and better things and Pope Johnson, a singer who has stolen Henry’s former Edson life, right down to the songs Henry wrote and used to perform on a nightly basis. Resigned to the fact time has erased the true creator of the lyrics (think Dave Matthews singing “All Along the Watchtower”), Henry lets Pope take his former spotlight while Henry meanders from one job possibility to another. He may be lost in Edson, but it’s still the place to which he keeps coming back.
As an aside, the Edson mill closing down in the dead of night was exactly like Josh Ritter’s “Henrietta, Indiana” song. There are probably hundreds of stories about factories shuttering their doors without warning and putting thousands out of work.

As another aside, there is lot of smoking and drinking in Edson.

Author fact: Bill Morrissey is a real life singer-songwriter. I had a chance to listen to some of his performances on the internet. I would definitely go to a bar to hang out to enjoy his music.

Book trivia: this should be a movie. Josh Ritter could play the lead.

Playlist: Mississippi John Hurt, Joni Mitchell, Grace Paley, Johnny Hodges, the fictional Tyler Beckett, Righteous Brothers (“Unchained Melody”), Beethoven, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Holly,

Nancy said: Pearl explains some of the plot.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Small-Town Life” (p 203).


Affliction

Banks, Russell. Affliction. New York: Harper & Row, 1989.

Wade Whitehouse could be an ordinary guy. He could be that small town, hard-working, have a beer with the boys, all-around nice guy. Except bad luck not only follows Wade like a hungry dog, it bites him when he’s down. No matter how caring Wade Whitehouse is on the inside, no matter how well-meaning he is, when things go wrong people know not to stand in his way. The smarter ones walk away. The entire tiny town of Lawford, New Hampshire knows Wade and his troubles. It’s no secret he has a mean streak that runs to the center of his very core. Alcohol and a nagging toothache only widen that streak until it takes over his whole being. In theory it’s not all Wade’s fault. Abused by his father during his formative years, Wade loses his wife, home and daughter when he himself turns violent. All he wants is more time with his daughter, a decent paycheck and a simple way of life. When none of these things come easily Wade sets out to unveil the truth and right the wrongs, using violence as the vehicle to do so. What makes Wade’s story so fascinating is that it is told from a younger brother’s perspective. Being in Massachusetts he is a comfortable distance from both his brother and the memories that have scarred him as well.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called, “Oh, Brother” (p 180).


Big If

Costello, Mark. Big If: a Novel. New York: W. W. Norton, 2002.

I love it when everything about a book comes together. Meaning, when the plot is exciting and moves along like a river after a good hard rain and characters are detailed and dynamic and even the small stuff is interesting. When all these things come together I can’t put a book down. I read this over the weekend. that should tell you something.

Jens and Vi Asplund are adult siblings with very different lives. Jens lives in New Hampshire with his real estate wife and toddler son. He spends his days as a computer programmer writing programs for violent video games his patriotic father never approved of. His sister, Violet is Secret Service bodyguard sworn to protect the life of the Vice President of the United States during an election campaign. She has nothing that resembles a social life, a love life, or even a home life. If she is lonely she would never admit it.

Big If  takes you inside the creative and neurotic genius of software programmers. Simultaneously, you are drawn into every potential threat made to high powered public officials, as well as reliving old threats-come-true like the assassination attempt on President Reagan. Jens and Vi couldn’t have different lives and seem worlds apart…until they collide.

Favorite line: “This was another Rocky trick, fukc this legalistic sh!t, talk to crazy people in the crazy people language” (p36).

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter “New England Novels” (p 177).

Special thanks to the Hot One for posting…