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I’m reading several books….

2009/09/30

Beside my bed are: The Prince of Tides, Pat Conroy
The Dark Side of Camelot, Seymour Hirsch (sp?)
I’m looking for The Family, by Jeff Sharlet.  I brought it with me when I traveled this weekend and I haven’t unpacked yet.
Black Reconstruction, W.E.B. Dubois

I have read about 1/2 of the 1st 2, 1/4 of the 3rd, and only a chapter or 2 of the last.

I want to read one book that I can’t put down.  Tides is dragging ever so slightly.  I get it, Tom Wingo, your Dad was a failure at everything except shrimping.  So was my Great Uncle Calvin.  Now, on with it!  Of course I did a little research & found out about the Big Trauma, which I’d forgotten from the film years ago.  I’ve only read one other Conroy book, The Water is Wide.  I think it was his first.  Excellent, autobiographical book about teaching on one of the SC sea islands. 

Someone who has a house on Fripp Island told me he is a curmudgeon.  Someone else who spent time with William Styron told me he was also a curmudgeon.  Their writing reminds me of each other’s.  We lost Styron, when, last year?  I loved Sophie’s Choice, read that years ago.  A few years ago I read Lie Down in Darkness.  I liked that.  Geez, just checked-Styron died almost 3 years ago. 

I’ve done a lot of genealogy research, and most of my family is from a remote area of NC on the inner banks of the barrier islands.  Styron also had ancestors from this county, Hyde County.  He wrote an interesting piece about his grandmother’s experience as a child of a planter, then having her home burned during the Civil War and having to move to a town in Beaufort County.  It’s on Hyde’s County’s genealogy website.  You can find it here.  It is quite eloquent. 

I’ve always felt a connection to him because of shared heritage, being born in Newport News where Styron grew up, his father & my father worked at the Newport News shipyard, his grandmama lived in Little Washington, NC, which was the closest large town to my parents’ hometown.  Oh, and depression.  I tried to read Darkness, Visible, about his experience with depression, but didn’t get far.  Mine has been different, although there’s always a connection between people with depression. 

You can frequently tell if a writer struggles with depression by their work.  Styron, Conroy, definitely.  I love a good melancholy read myself!  I love to read books about crimes.  I like the ones that are written well, and have a solid basis on the time and place and cultural context.  Two good ones that come to mind are Lorenzo Carcaterra (Sleepers, and another one I read, forgot the name), and James Ellroy, best known for the novel LA Confidential, but I love a book he wrote about his own mother’s murder called My Dark Places.  Mikhail Gilmore is or was, not sure, the brother of Gary Gilmore, who Mailer wrote about in The Executioner’s Song (which I read about 1100 of the about 1200 pages of TWICE?!).  I think Gary Gilmore was the 1st person executed by after the death penalty was re-instated in-1974?  Anyhow, Mikhail Gilmore wrote a fascinating memoir about growing up in that toxic family.  It was called  Shot in the Heart.

Until next time…  Stay awake!

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