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, and Poetry.

It is not often I see a new novel, open to the first page, and then buy and begin reading.  But it has happened now.  Furthermore, Charlotte McConaghy’s first novel Migrations, is by an unknown writer.  As I began to read, I gathered the subject of the novel revolved around the effects of climate change, overfishing in the oceans, and attempts to find the last flock of Arctic terns.  I was immediately overcome with the beauty of her prose.  She—and several other characters--also migrate.

 


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry.

A couple of years ago, I read The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 and ¼ Years old.  I have recently retired, so I decided to explore the sequel, On the Bright Side: The New Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen.  It proved to be funny, with a measure of pathos.

The story begins on “Wednesday, December 31, 2014.  […] I shall do my best, but there is to be no whining if the diary I am starting tomorrow does not make it all the way through to the end of the year.  A one-in-five chance” (1).  Fortunately, he makes it.


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry.

In my distant past, I had an affair with archaeology.  I read of all the tombs and digs.  Recently, I came across The Golden Child by Penelope Fitzgerald.  According to the paperback cover, she is one of England’s most celebrated contemporary writers with scads of short novels.  She died in 2000.

The story begins when an ancient, gold-covered corpse of the African ruler of the Garamantia arrives at a London Museum. It “instantly becomes the sinister focus of a web of intrigue spun by all manner of museum personal” (Jacket).  Three characters are prominent: the archaeologist, a scruffy guard, and a junior office in the museum.  This is satire of the first order.


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry.

According to the dust jacket, Elliot Ackerman served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and is the recipient of the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for valor, and the Purple heart.  His essays and fiction have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The new Republic, and Ecotone, among other publications.  He currently lives in Istanbul, where he writes on the Syrian Civil War.  He is a true hero.

 


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry.

Swedish author, Fredrik Backman, has written six thrilling stories of life in Sweden.  Most revolve around ice hockey.  The seventh is every bit as wonderful, tragic, filled with love, hate, and greed.  Us Against You continues the story of “warfare” between two rival towns over hockey supremacy.  I have loved every minute of these stories, and you will, too!


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

One of the most talented writers to come out of South America is Isabelle Allende.  She began her career with The House of Spirits, which gave her world-wide acclaim.  Since then, she has written twenty-four bestselling and critically acclaimed novels.  Her latest book is A Long Petal of the Sea.  She was born in Peru, raised in Chile, but she now lives in California.


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

I have read several books by Lily King—The English Teacher, The Pleasing Hour, and Euphoria.  All were resounding successes.  Naturally, I was immediately drawn to her latest book, Writers & Lovers: A Novel.  This story tells of a writer desperately trying to finish the manuscript of her first novel.  It began with Case Peabody shortly after the death of her mother.  Page after page reminded me of so many of the things I have dealt with recently.  The first line touched me deeply. 


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

Chris Cleave has taken an exciting racing story as a recent setting.  The main characters are two young women in competition while training for the Olympics.  He was the author of an interesting story, Gold.  He currently resides in Kingston-upon-Thames, England.


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

I have always been fascinated by nature--especially animals.  When I came across Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson, I could not resist.  I had never heard of Williamson, but the intro had a vast selection of stories by him.  The New York Review Books also provided a brief biography.  “Henry Williamson was born in Brockley, London.  In January of 1914, he enlisted in the British Army, and by November he was fighting in the trenches on the Western front.  He worked his way up to Lieutenant by 1916, and he fell sick from a gas attack in 1917.  Later he wrote for a local paper.  He died in 1977. 


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

A large part of my graduate education revolved around the trinity of 19th century authors: George Eliot, the Brontë sisters, and Jane Austen.  Susan Carson edited 33 Great Writers on Why We Read Jane Austen.  This remarkable book drives the reader into Austen’s entire world from all angles.  Every devotee of Austen should own a copy of this work.  I hope I can find a similar book for Eliot and the Brontës.


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

Julia Alvarez is an amazing writer.  Julia has an impressive collection of literary rewards.  In 2013, President Obama awarded her the National Medal of Arts in recognition of her extraordinary storytelling. 

 


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

According to the dust jacket, Crissy Van Meter grew up in Southern California.  She holds an MFA in creative writing from the New School.  Creatures is her first novel.  

 


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

The Redhead by the Side of the Road is the latest offering by Anne Tyler.  This story of Micah Mortimer is the life of a man living a well-ordered household.  He has a lady friend, but their interactions are on and off.  One day, she reveals she has been evicted from her apartment, but Micah shows no apparent interest in her problem.  Then, to make matters worse, a teenager shows up and claims he is Micah’s son.  Micah is not used to so much intrusion in his life. 


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

If you are a long-time listener to Likely Stories, you might know, Ian McEwan is one of my most favorite novelists.  Ian has a rapier wit when he needs it, and he is a writer of renown.  I have read almost all his novels, and I never—for even a moment—have lost the depth and expertise of his writing.  His latest novel, The Cockroach, is satire of the highest order.  If you are not familiar with McEwan, pick up a copy of any of his nineteen novels.

 

 

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

I recently received a book which opened the window on a frightening and horrific story.  Freedom Libraries: The Untold Story of Libraries for African Americans in the South by Mike Selby.  Mike “is a professional librarian.  He received his MLS from the University of Alabama, which is where he first unearthed the story of the Freedom Libraries.  He has published over nine hundred articles about libraries, reading, and print culture—much of it covering libraries during the Civil Rights Movement” (Jacket).  The book recounts a number of anecdotes and the people who suffered and risked their lives to bring books to children.


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