LitPicks Book Reviews—November 2008

Theme— A Boy's Life
This month's stories are of three young men who come of age in the years soon after World War II. One lives in the American Midwest, one in Norway, and one in India during the tumultuous years of that nation's independence.
 
Labels: A Lighter Touch

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The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
Bill Bryson, 2006
288 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
November 2008

It's Bill Bryson, so you know it's funny. And it is—wonderfully. But it's also a gorgeous evocation of the 1950's, those halcyon years that followed the depression and war, when prosperity was spreading among a burgeoning middle class. For many life was sweet.

It was a life in which adults waxed poetically about new refrigerators, nary a tear for the old icebox; in which kids devised their own play, outdoors; and when people, even youngsters, could walk to town.
 

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Out Stealing Horses
Per Petterson, 2003; English trans., 2005
250 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
November 2008

An elegy for a beloved father and youthful innocence, this story uses parallel time-frames, then and now—in which an older man comes face-to-face with events of his childhood.

Nearing his 70's, Trond Sander has retreated to an isolated Norwegian cottage only to find that his neighbor, another solitary soul, belonged to his long-ago childhood—the summer of 1948 which Trond and his father spent in a remote village near the Swedish border. Now haunted by memories both beautiful and painful, Trond comes to see that he is more his father's son than he had realized.
 
Labels: Great Works

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Midnight's Children
Salman Rushdie, 1981
560 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
November 2008
No other book in the English language is quite so decorated as Midnight's Children. It won the Booker Prize in 1981...then won the Booker of the Bookers in 1993...then the Best of the Bookers 15 years later. No other work has walked away with those awards.

Like Toni Morrison's Beloved or Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, the novel has become one of a handful of contemporary classics.
 

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