Jim McKeown

Host, Likely Stories

Life-long voracious reader, Jim McKeown, is an English Instructor at McLennan Community College. His "Likely Stories" book review can be heard every Thursday on KWBU-FM! Reviews include fiction, biographies, poetry and non-fiction. Join us for Likely Stories every Thursday featured during Morning Edition and All Things Considered with encore airings Saturday and Sunday during Weekend Edition.  

Ways to Connect

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

A new writer I recently discovered, has led me to an amazing story of love and passion.  The story revolves around three couples loosely connected by time and space, with a thinner connection by blood.  André Aciman’s latest novel, Find Me, is a powerful story of the connections created by love.  Find Me is a sequel to Call Me by Your Name.  He has written six other novels.  He lives with his wife in Manhattan.

 


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

Louisa Treger has an amazing dual history.  She started as a classical violinist, and then to a Ph.D in English.  She lives in London, and this is her second novel. 

 


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

One of my most often reviewed authors is Ian McEwan.  I always learn a few things and add to my vocabulary while thoroughly enjoying his work.  His latest novel is Machines Like Me.  I pondered whether he likes machines or the machines like him.  Answering that conundrum will require a serious exploration of the human mind.

 


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

Alice McDermont was born in Brooklyn, New York and has written several novels of life among those originally living in Ireland but who immigrated to the United States, particularly to Brooklyn.  She has won numerous awards and been listed as a finalist for several novels.    Someone: A Novel was longlisted for the 2013 National Book Award.  As the dust jacket reveals, Someone recounts the ‘devastating pains and unexpected joys with bursts of brilliant clarity and moments of profound confusion’.”  Marie is a child with thick glasses.  Unlike some stories, no one teases her or bullies her.  She has a brother who seems destined for a vocation as a Catholic priest.  Her father is ill, and her mother is a quiet, loving, but stern parent.  Her stories also reveal many details of life in pre-World W II.  I found this pleasant story full of wonderful depictions of people who share numerous insights into everyday life. 


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

According to the dust jacket, Elizabeth Ames is a graduate of the University of Michigan MFA program, where she won the Hopwood Award.  She has published a number of short stories.  Elizabeth was born and raised in Wisconsin, and she currently lives in a Harvard dormitory with her husband, two children, and a few hundred under graduates.  This is her first novel, which always draws me to new writers.

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

A few years ago, I came by three interesting books about libraries.  In the third, Matthew Battles wrote Library: An Unquiet History.  The depth, breath, and detail of this history appeals to most bibliophiles.

 

 

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

As you can easily imagine I frequently browse used bookstores for hidden treasures.  I recently stumbled upon an enormous, clean, and well-organized shop.  To my surprise, the proprietor was selling most of his inventory for 4, 6, or 9 dollars.  Among that treasure trove was a slim novel, Malinche by Laura Esquivel, which recounts the genocide perpetrated on the indigenous Mexican Indians at the hands of Hernán Cortés and his Spanish soldiers.  

 


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

I came across a nifty little film based on Penelope Fitzgerald’s novel, The Bookshop.  This short novel was the first time I read a book about a bookstore.  This story is of a woman determined to open the first bookstore in a sleepy little English town.  Fitzgerald has had three novels shortlisted for the Booker prize.  In 1979, she captured the prize for Offshore.  This is my third reading of this splendid novel.

 

 


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

Ages ago, I got a copy of The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier.  What followed was a storm of varied and interesting stories—mostly about women and how they are swept aside in deference to men.  A Single Thread, Tracy’s latest novel, is no exception.

 


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

Alix Nathan has recently finished an exciting, troubling, and ghastly novel.  The title is The Warlow Experiment. 

 


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

I always enjoy reading a new, young writer, especially when she can spin a decent tale.  Amy Meyerson has done this with her debut novel, The Bookshop of Yesterdays.  Of course, some of my loyal listeners might recognize this story as one revolving around a bookshop.  My taste for this genre received a boost with the recent opening of The Fabled Bookshop and Café in Waco.  


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

In amongst all the exciting and suspenseful novels I have reviewed, I came upon a funny, interesting little book Ex Libris” Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman.  This slim volume of a mere 162 pages is full of humor and wisdom.  According to the cover, “Ex Libris recounts a lifelong love affair with books and language.”  Anne is the editor of The American Scholar.  She has won a National Book Critics Circle Award and has written for numerous magazines.  She now resides with her family in western Massachusetts.

 


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

My encounter with Kristin Hannah’s work came from her exciting and suspense-filled novel, The Great Alone.  It tells the story of Ernt Albright, his wife Cora, and their 13-year-old-daughter, Leni.  Ernt was a captured POW in Vietnam.  When he finally returned home, he was thoroughly broken.  He suffered from a severe case of PTSD.  He has lost another job and verges on the edge of complete collapse.  When he receives a letter from the father of his best friend—who died in Vietnam--he learns his friend had requested Ernt take over the property, so he can find some peace.  The family was welcome by the local residents, and they offered much in the way of labor, supplies, and food in preparation for the coming winter.  Ernt refuses all such help.

 


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

According to the dust jacket, “Brock Clarke is an award-winning author of seven previous works of fiction, including the bestselling An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England.  He lives in Maine and he teaches at Bowdoin College.”  His latest novel, Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe? is one peculiar book.  

 


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies.

Richard Russo is a talented and widely admired writer.  His latest novel Chances Are… is the story of “Three old friends [who] arrived on Cape Cod in reverse order, from farthest to nearest: Lincoln, a commercial real estate broker, traveled practically cross-country from Las Vegas, Teddy. A small press publisher, from Syracuse; Mickey, a musician and sound engineer.  All were sixty-six years old and had attended the same small liberal arts college in Connecticut where they’d slung hash at a campus sorority” (3).  The group is rounded out with “Jacy,” (6).  I am about the same age, and I attended a small liberal arts college in Philadelphia, I could not help missing a healthy measure of intrigue.

 


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