Monday, February 15, 2016

February 2016 "Quick Lit"

I'm linking today to Modern Mrs. Darcy's "Quick Lit" post where we share brief reviews of what we've been reading in the past month:



NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman is an indepth discussion of the history of autism.  The book covers early autism and Asperger syndrome research, controversies over clinical approaches and diagnostic criteria, the autism/vaccination question, famous autistics like Temple Grandin, the making of the movie Rain Man, and individual case studies of autistic people and their families. Silberman argues that autism is not a new phenomenon (as the increasing number of diagnoses might suggest); rather, it's a natural difference that has always been present in the human family but has most often been misunderstood, misdiagnosed, or suppressed. Instead of viewing autism as a terrible scourge and spending excessive time and money seeking causes and cures, we should recognize and welcome the gifts (even genius) that autistic people bring to society and provide support and services, where necessary, to help them flourish in a world that often hasn't suited their way of thinking and functioning. A fascinating, important book.
 


 My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout. Strout is one of my favourite authors; she won the Pulitzer Prize for Olive Kitteridge, and I've read all of her books. Her latest novel is just brilliant. When narrator Lucy is hospitalized for several weeks after an operation, her mother, whom she has not seen in years, unexpectedly appears at her bedside. They chat about old neighbours and people in the news; but in spite of Lucy's questions, her mother can't open up to her about the poverty, isolation, abuse, and other secrets that shaped their family's history. Lucy ponders these aspects of her past -- including the role they've played in making her the wife, mother, and successful writer she now is -- and achieves a sad but determined acceptance.  This book is unsettling, but I didn't find it depressing. And it's so well written. I spent a lot of time, after I'd finished it, looking back to examine how Strout structured it and how she was able to convey so much in a relatively short (185 pp) novel. Highly recommended.


What I'm currently in the middle of:
- A Spool of Blue Thread (Anne Tyler's latest, about an ordinary yet fractured family -- it's holding my interest despite its meandering style.)
- The Road to Character by David Brooks (I'm really enjoying it but it's past due at the library; I suppose I should demonstrate good character by returning it unfinished and letting the next person in line have it.)

 

12 comments:

  1. Sounds like two great books. I've never read anything by Strout. I love how you went back to study the book's structure.

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    1. Strout doesn't usually use a first-person narrator, and in many ways this book is quite different from her other ones. But she is so good. I'd highly recommend any of her books. Thanks for coming by, Anne!

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  2. I'll have to read Lucy Barton. Olive Kitteridge is an absolute masterpiece. It took me a while to realize I'd read and enjoyed another book by Strout -- the one with the girl who has really long hair. Amy and Isabel? Something like that.

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    1. Yes, Amy and Isabelle. I think the first one I read by her was Abide With Me; we did it in our book club several years ago. The Burgess Boys is also good, but I think Lucy Barton and Olive Kitteridge are her best, though they are VERY different from one another. Thanks for reading and commenting, Caroline.

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  3. The Neurotribes sounds interesting. I am wait listed for a similar book on autism called in a different key. I was discussing neuro diversity in regards to autism with a friend.

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    1. Thanks so much for suggesting In a Different Key. I went to our library website and they have it, so I've put a hold on it too. It will be really interesting to read it after having read NeuroTribes. Thanks for stopping in today!

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  4. I have Lucy Barton on hold at the library, but I'm especially intrigued by Neurotribes! I'll have to check it out! Thanks for the recommendation.

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    1. It's just excellent, and he makes it so interesting, almost novel-like, with such fascinating characters, tensions, etc. Thanks for coming by, Sheri.

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  5. I haven't read anything by Strout. You've piqued my interest. I just finished Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinburg, about awakening to the nearness of God. She is so creative and such a great story teller that it was an easy and I spring read.

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    1. Last spring my church women's group did a study of Margaret Feinberg's Scouting the Divine; I enjoyed it. I haven't read anything else by her, so maybe I'll check out Wonderstruck! Thanks Betsy.

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  6. I'm waiting on My Name is Lucy Barton on Overdrive (I don't want to have to go all the way to the library!). I can't wait!

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    1. I hope you'll be posting about it on Quick Lit soon; I'm eager to hear what other people think. (I don't know anyone else who's read it yet.)

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