Likely Stories

Thursday 7:45am and 4:45pm. Saturday 8:35am. Sunday 9:35am

So many books, so little time!  Jim McKeown hosts this weekly review of fiction, poetry, non-fiction and biographies.  Jim is a lifelong voracious reader who learned to read by the “rule of 50.”  If he’s not engaged in the characters, the prose, or the plot by page 50, he puts in a book mark and returns it to the shelf.   Likely Stories  is a three and a half minute module that we think you’ll give “FIVE STARS!” 

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

I could easily name five or six novels that have brought me to tears at the end of my reading.  Today, I am telling a story that drove me to tears from the first two or three paragraphs.  The Library Book by Susan Orlean has done just that.  This review will be different than most.


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

Aside from Margaret Attwood, I rarely encounter novels from Canada.  However, when Death and the Seaside by Alison Moore grabbed my attention, I was intrigued.  Then I began the novel, and my intrigue meter went off the charts.  Her first novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. And her short fiction has been included in Best Short Stories and Best British Horror anthologies and broadcast on BBC Radio.  My intrigue meter went up another notch.


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

On occasion, I like to dip into some unusual novels referred to as “Chick Lit.”  This popular genre seems to be everywhere I see readers.  Tracey Garvis Graves has written eight novels.  The Girl He Used to Know is her ninth.  Aside from an occasional romp in the bedroom of a pair of students, I found the story amusing with a truly gripping twist.


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

As the companion of two affectionate and smart Labrador Retrievers, I was happy to run across Clive D. L. Wynne’s fascinating story of dogs and their relationship to humans.  Professor Wynne is the founding director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University.  He has published a number of articles, and he has appeared on National Geographic Explorer, PBS, and the BBC.  He lives in Tempe, Arizona.  Dog is Love is his first full length book.

 


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

According to the Penguin notice, Stewart O’Nan is the author of eleven novels and two works of nonfiction.  I first read his work in, Last Night at the Lobster, which became a national bestseller.  He has won a number of awards, and Granta named him one of the twenty Best Young American Novelists.  He lives with his family in Connecticut.   Just finished Songs for the Missing.  This novel is intense.  The story carries the lives of a family through immense trauma, and the heartache rides with them to the end.

 


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

Kent Haruf died a few years ago, and I only learned of him when I came across his last novel, Our Souls at Night.  This tender dance between a widow and a widower who—in an effort to ward off loneliness--joined together struck me to the bone.  I immediately sought out the other five.  Where You Once Belonged leaves me with only one more.  And that makes me sad, because this collection of short novels is nothing more than magnificent.  All six of these stories deserve 10 stars as a group.

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

A recent reminder that I had neglected the works of Colm Tóibín drew me to one of only a couple of his works I had not read.  The South is the story of Katherine Proctor who abandons her family in a move to Barcelona.  There she meets Miguel, an anarchist veteran of the Spanish Civil War.  This is a thrilling story of art and exile and a search for love.  Note there are several brief adult scenes.  


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

Dame Jean Iris Murdoch is—to my way of reading—one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century.  She passed away February 8, 1999.  She was a British novelist and philosopher.  She has written 26 spectacular novels, along with a short story, plays, philosophy, and poetry.  I have so many stories about her and her works, I could fill several episodes of Likely Stories.


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

After a few intense stories, I turned my eyes to an interesting novel with some romance and some danger all wrapped up in a nifty story of two women who share a bizarre tale.  Sarah Jio’s ninth novel, All the Flowers in Paris will give you moments of pleasure while keeping you on edge. 


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

Once again, I found myself in the web of one of my favorite genres: novels set in and around a bookstore.  If you think these are all copy-cat stories, you are in for a surprise.  So far, all that I have read have a variety of situations, characters, and love.  According to the biography in the paperback copy, Victoria Henry worked as a scriptwriter before turning to fiction.  She lives with her family in North Devon, England. Her novel, How to find Love in a Bookshop is a wonderful story.  

 

 

Likely Stories: Girl by Edna O’Brien

Jan 23, 2020

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

Josephine Edna O'Brien was born December 15, 1930.  She is an Irish novelist playwright, poet, and short-story writer.  The President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, cited her as "one of the great creative writers of her generation."  She has penned more than 25 works of fiction.  Her stories are heartfelt, poignant, and breathtaking.  


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. 


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