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.

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.


A long time ago, I stumbled on an interesting story by a pair of Ph.D students who gathered up all their worldly belongings, and moved to Botswana to study African Lions and hyenas.  The adventure drew me to them as I read the story of their lives in Africa.  I still have that worn copy, and hardly a year goes by when I am rereading Mark & Delia Owens Cry of the Kalahari.  

I tracked down a signed, hardback, of Cry, and then came upon Secrets of the Savanna.  While not as exciting as Cry, it certainly had loads of interesting stories about Africa, its inhabitants, and above all, the wildlife.

In a prologue by Mark Owens, he wrote: “A heavy fog, thick and white, settled lower over the hills of Masailand in Kenya.  I eased off the power and slowed down but pulled back on the cyclic stick, giving up altitude grudgingly.  Our chopper’s main rotor tore ragged chunks out of the clouds underbelly and

Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen is a most peculiar story.  It begins with a tragic accident.  Jon is the author of two novels before Harry’s.  He was the recipient of an NEA fellowship for creative writing, and he was a cowriter of a film directed by Steven Spielberg.

Jon begins, “Oriana had lost a book.  It’s very special, Olive Perkins, the ancient librarian at the Pratt Public Library had told her.  Somebody had made it by hand.  When Olive gave it to Oriana, she almost couldn’t let go of it.  There was a look in the old woman’s eyes Oriana had never seen before, a fleeting indescribable expression.  Then Olive suddenly did the opposite, pushed The Grum’s Ledger into the young girl’s hands and moved her briskly toward the oak doors [of the Library].  ‘But there’s no due date,’ Oriana said.  Olive still stamped her books the old fashion way, with a rubber stamp on the Date Due slip pasted on the last page.  She was a tiny, bird-boned woman, but the stamp hit a book like John Henry’s hammer.  ‘It’s due when you’re done with it, child,’ Olive said.  She dropped her voice to a whisper.  ‘And remember.  You are my favorite reader, and now you are my

M. L. Stedman’s first novel, The Light Between Oceans, is a novel I highly recommend.

Stedman begins this luscious and spell-binding novel with a sorrowful sound.  “On the day of the miracle, Isabel was kneeling at the cliff’s edge, tending the small, newly made driftwood cross.  A single fat cloud snailed across the late-April sky, which stretched above the island in a mirror of the ocean below.  Isabel sprinkled more water and patted down the soil around the rosemary bush she had just planted. For just a moment, her mind tricked her into hearing an infant’s cry.  She dismissed the illusion, her eye drawn instead by a pod of whales weaving their way up the coast to calve in the warmer waters, emerging now and again with a fluke of their tails like needles through tapestry.  She heard the cry again, louder this time on the early morning breeze.  Impossible” (3).

The story is then interrupted by a marvelous description of their island home.  Stedman writes, “From this side of the island, there was only vastness, all the way to Africa.  Here, the Indian Ocean washed into the great Southern Ocean and together they stretched like and endless carpet below the cliffs.  On days like this it seemed so solid she had the impression she could walk to Madagascar in a journey of

 I finally got a copy of the third volume of Hillary Mantel’s magnificent trilogy, The Mirror and the Light.  Her first two volumes—Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies—garnered well-deserved Booker Prizes.  Hilary’s incredible story—with nearly 1,700 pages—delves into the minutest details of the lives of the interesting family of Oliver Cromwell.

 

While reading her latest book, I took some notes of interesting passages.  I believe these tidbits will more than whet the appetite for those interested in the period.  Here we go!  Hillary writes, (Page 8) “‘Would that my niece had imitated Katherine [of Aragon] in other particulars’, Norfolk says.  ‘Had she been obedient, chaste and

 

  Tense and absorbing story of a runaway balloon, and several men trying to help.

(Local productions are on hold during the social distance requirements due to Covid-19.  This segment originally aired July 12, 2018.)

 

Best-selling author, Ian McEwan has a knack for stories that slowly build for the reader right up until the precipice.  According to WikiPedia, McEwan is an English novelist and screenwriter.  In 2008, The London Times featured him on their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945.  Enduring Love is among a few of his early works I have eagerly devoured. 

Joe and Clarissa have what seems to be an ideal marriage.  Clarissa is a therapist, who is dedicated to her profession.  Joe is a successful freelance writer.  Clarissa has been away for some time, and 

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