Fiction

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. 


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.

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.

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.

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.

 


Likely Stories: The Book of Dreams by Nina George

Sep 26, 2019

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

I discovered the writer Nina George when I impulsively bought her first novel, The Little Paris Bookshop.  Her next story, The Little Paris Bistro appeared next.  Both were delightful tales of life in Paris, France.  I had to wait a bit for her next novel, The Book of Dreams.  This was quite a departure from the French novels, but Nina has created a magnificent and tragic novel, which is filled with hope and desire.

Nina George is the author of the best-selling books I just mentioned.  Her books are an international phenomenon.  She has published a number of novels in Germany published around Europe.  She lives with her husband in Berlin and Brittany, France.  I was lucky enough to meet her while on a tour of the US.  I can’t wait for her next novel.

Adventures of a voracious reader who works in an independent bookstore

As my readers are aware, I have a craving for novels about books, bookshelves, bookstores, and libraries.  The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman is her third novel

Abbi writes, “Larchmont Boulevard is the linear heart of Larchmont Village, populated by cafés, restaurants, boutiques, artisanal stores of many kinds, and one of the few remaining independent bookstores in Los Angeles.  That’s where Nina Hill works, spinster of the parish and heroine of both her own life and the book you’re holding in your lovely hand” (4).  I feel as though I am nearly in the presence of Jane Austen.

Collection of wonderful stories by the noted actor, Tom Hanks.

Tom Hanks has a solid record as an actor.  He was born July 9, 1956.  He is well known for his comedic and dramatic roles in such films as Sleepless in Seattle, Forest Gump, Apollo 13, Cast Away, and Saving Private Ryan, to name a few.  He is widely regarded as an American cultural icon.  Uncommon Types: Some Stories is his first book.

The first story, “Three Exhausting Weeks” reveals much of the details of their relationship.  Anna is a whirlwind of ideas.  Hanks wrote, “Anna was still very pretty.  She never lost her lean, rope-taut body of a triathlete, which, in fact, she had been.  For a day, I showed her some available spaces, none of which she wanted for reasons that made little sense to me.  I could tell she was just as driven, focused, and tightly wound as she had been in [college].  She had too keen an eye for the smallest of details and left no stones unturned, uninspected, unrecorded, or unreplaced if they needed replacing.  Adult Anna was no more my type than Teen Anna had been” (5-6).  They became a couple.

Story of a young man who was abandoned by his wife but finds love at last.

Robert Hillman’s first novel—The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted—turned out to be a lovely story marvelously written with a backdrop of a frightening past set in Australia.  Tom Hope has been abandoned by his wife.  He struggles to understand why his wife left him.  Trudy returns after a long period and announces she is pregnant.   She stays for a while, but then she disappears again, leaving the boy with Tom.  Then she shows up to claim her son.  Tom is devastated after raising the boy alone for a few years. 

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