June Jumping

I see June as jumping over spring. We went from low 50 degree temps to mid 90s overnight. Not sure what to make of this abbreviated spring. I’m not sure what to make of myself either. I all but stopped running (eleven miles for the entire month). Even when I was home on Monhegan I didn’t lace up. My only saving grace is I’m to start training for a half in July. Sigh…

Here are the books:

Fiction –

  • American Pastoral by Philip Roth ~ in honor of Father’s Day (AB)
  • Under the Gypsy Moon ~ by Lawrence Thornton
  • The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett

Nonfiction –

  • Death, Taxes and Leaky Waders by John Gierach
  • Provence by Ford Madox Ford (DNF)

Series Continuations –

  • Cider with Rosie (illustrated) by Laurie Lee
  • Henry James: the Middle Year by Leon Edel (not finished yet)

For the Early Review program for LibraryThing:

  • Upstream: Searching for Wild Salmon, From River to Table by Langdon Cook
  • The World Broke in Two by Brian Goldstein (not finished yet)

Here are the short stories –

  • “Artie Glick in a Family Way” by Joseph Epstein
  • “Executor” by Joseph Epstein
  • “Mendocino” by Ann Packer
  • “Babies” by Ann Packer
  • “General Markman’s Last Stand” by Tom Paine
  • “The Spoon Children” by Tom Paine
  • “Someone to Watch Over Me” by Richard Bausch
  • “Aren’t You Happy for Me?” by Richard Bausch

American Pastoral

Roth, Philip. American Pastoral. Read by Ron Silver. Beverly Hills, CA: Phoenix Audio, 2005.

Reason read: Father’s day is in June.

Where does one begin when trying to describe American Pastoral? The jumping off point might be to say this: in the beginning of AP reoccurring character Nathan Zuckerman is attending his 45th high school reunion where he runs into the brother of Seymour “Swede” Levov. The Swede was a high school athletic god with the seemingly perfect life. Through this meeting the reader hears the details of how Seymour’s life ended up. But, that’s oversimplifying the story in a huge way. Zuckerman’s narrative dies off and American Pastoral becomes more of a commentary on a variety of subjects. At the center is Swede Levov and the continuation of his perfect high school life (now in the 1960s in the suburbs of New Jersey; successful upper class businessman, married to former Miss New Jersey). Everything is perfect. Enter the Vietnam War and a willful, protesting daughter. All hell breaks loose when Merry commits an act of terror, bombing a post office and killing a man. American Pastoral takes a look at what it means to be a family facing falling apart and scandal, what it means to have faith, what it means to lose faith, what it means to be an American, what it means to be un-American and everything in between.

Quote I liked, “The candor stopped just where it should have begun” (p 798).

Author fact: Roth won a Pulitzer for fiction after writing American Pastoral.

Narrator fact: Ron Silver is also an actor, appearing on Chicago Hope – a show I have never seen.

Book trivia: American Pastoral was made into a movie starring Ewan McGregor in 2016.

Nancy said: “Popular fiction of late has as its text of subtext a family in trouble” (p 82), naming American Pastoral as an example.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust twice. First, in the chapter called “Families in Trouble” (p 82) and again a couple of pages later in the chapter called “Fathers and Daughters” (p 84).


June Jitterbugs

May was a month of real struggle. Suicides, known and unknown, sucked the life out of my psyche and I had a hard time staying afloat myself. I became obsessed with the sinking of the Lusitania and devoured every documentary I could find. Yet, I was unsure of my own mind’s footing; enough so I couldn’t trust me or myself to stand at Monhegan’s cliff edge. A first for me. Upon returning home I found myself amazed to be so relieved at being landlocked once again.

Here are the books I have planned for June:

Fiction:

  • Under the Gypsy Moon by Lawrence Thornton
  • Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett
  • American Pastoral by Philip Roth (AB)

Nonfiction:

  • Provence: by Ford Madox Ford
  • Another Lousy Day in Paradise by John Gierach ~ June is Fishing Month

Short Stories (June is Short Story Month):

  • “Artie Glick in a Family Way” by Joseph Epstein
  • “The Executor” by Joseph Epstein
  • “Mendocino” by Ann Packer
  • “Babies” by Ann Packer
  • “The Spoon Children” by Tom Paine
  • “Gentleman Markman’s Last Stand” by Tom Paine

Series Continuations:

  • Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee
  • Henry James: the Middle Years by Leon Edel

Early Review for LibraryThing (maybe – I haven’t received it yet):

  • Upstream by Langdon Cook

Patrimony

Roth, Philip. Novels and Other Narratives 1986 – 1991. Patrimony: A True Story. New York: Library of America, 2008.

I will admit this was hard to read. For starters it is about the relationship Roth had with his father and the illness that finally took that relationship away. Any story about a father tugs at my heart strings because mine is no longer with me. Secondly, Roth’s father died of a brain tumor. My aunt had a brain tumor and while it isn’t the same kind her life has been changed forever because of it. I grieve for the person she used to be.

Philip Roth delivers a touching tribute to his father. With eloquence,  humor and the utmost respect he shares his father’s illness leading up to his final days. Herman Roth wakes up one morning to a strange paralysis, drooping eyelid, slack cheek and slurred speech, on one side of his face. Thinking he has had a stroke Philip takes his father to see a doctor. The news is worse. Herman has a brain tumor at the base of his skull that has been growing for ten years. What follows is a journey of father and son, navigating medical treatments and traversing the rough road of relationships. The result is a touching memoir of discovery for both father and son. If you have never read anything by Roth, read this.

Line that stopped me dead, “You clean up your father’s shit because it has to be cleaned up, but in the aftermath of cleaning it up, everything that’s there to feel is felt as it never was before” (p689). Wow.

Reason read: Father’s Day is June 16th this year. I am reading Patrimony in honor of the father I lost on September 21, 1992.

Author fact: An interesting website for Roth is here.

Book trivia: In 1992 Roth received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Patrimony: a True Story.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Me, Me, Me: Autobiographies and Memoirs” (p 163).