Tag Archives: Novels

Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey

This cover is bogus

I’ve been hearing about Zane Grey almost my whole life. A famous western writer who was active in the early 20th century wrote about the old west. I used to watch Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theater when I was a kid. I have never read his books until this one “Riders of the Purple Sage” his best seller.

Forest Ranger on the Mogollon Rim, Arizona early 1960's
There is my Dad, the Forest Ranger, at the Mogollon Rim on the Tonto National Forest in Arizona. I think that is my brother at the far right. The dog is Dupe the cocker spaniel. I don’t know who the guy on left is.

I grew up in Zane Grey country, the Mogollon Rim country in Arizona. Home of desperadoes, cowboys, and outlaws way back when.

IMG_0732
The Zane Grey Cabin in Payson, Arizona.

So I was expecting some sort of outlaw, desperado, rustler, lawman type novel when I read my first Grey novel. And there is quite a bit of that along with some great description of the country of southern Utah. A land of hidden canyons, secret passages, and beautiful valleys. There were outlaws, rustlers, and heroic hard bitten cowboys. But I’ll tell the dirty little secret of this book.

It’s a Romance Novel!! Oh my gosh, these cowboys when they meet the women their hearts go all aflutter, falling in pure, innocent love for these various damsels in distress. Page after page after page. I was never more glad to finish a novel than this thing. There were some “good parts in it” horseback chases across the sage flats. Hard charging horses. All the shoot outs and action is “off camera” if you will. They are told about afterwards.

Other than that it reminds of way back when when I worked in an office where one of the secretary’s didn’t have much to do so she read romance novels all day long. So I’d come by and say, hey let me see that. So I’d take the book and standing there for a few seconds read aloud what page she had been reading and it was all about heaving bosoms, quivering thighs, breathless anticipation, and soaring love (that is about as far as it went in this lady’s books). That is Riders of the Purple Sage, romance for cowboys.

The women are not treated much better. They are described as simple, childlike, and weak.

So I give this book three stars out of five for historical and literary interest. Otherwise I was pretty disappointed.

John Grisham – “A Time for Mercy”

John Grisham’s “A Time for Mercy” is a continuation of Grisham’s earlier “A Time to Kill” and “Sycamore Row.” The star is attorney Jake Brigance who is a little older and wiser, still trying to build his practice and suffering from his integrity and stubbornness. I am not going to reveal the plot of course but Jake gets stuck defending an undefensible youthful client on a charge of First Degree Murder. He’s also trying to win a slam dunk civil suit against a corporation.

Grisham is at his best as he builds up the back story on both cases slowly. Toward the last his courtroom narratives kept me reading for hours. I’m not going to reveal the ending of course but lets just say it is oddly satisfying.

“Manhattan Beach” by Jennifer Egan

Manhattan Beach  by Jennifer Egan is quite a read. It is a novel set in the middle 1930’s through mid World War II about a girl Anna and her family who live in New York City. The book starts out a little quietly but builds to quite a story featuring Irish and Italian mobsters and associated treachery, learning how to be come a navy diver, U Boat attacks, double lives, hopelessness and redemption. The book is about how complex people are and we don’t really fully understand others. I loved it and recommend it highly.

 

“My Struggle: Book One” by Karl Ove Knausgaard

I heard somebody talking about a series of autobiographical novels by a Norwegian Author and was fascinated by the concept. I mean, what is an autobiographical novel anyway? I have a feeling that many autobiographies are somewhat novels but I don’t want to get side tracked down that rabbit hole. So anyway I read about the the books.

The books are six in number published in Norwegian from 2009 to 2011. The books are called “My Struggle” and numbered one through six and were written by Karl Ove Knausgaard and reveal his private life, thoughts, and dreams. He names family members and gets into all sorts of private matters. This has resulted in turmoil with his family members and amazingly he did not anticipate the response from the people close to him.

I just finished Book One and found it fascinating. There really is not plot or anything and the whole book is about the struggle he had dealing with his father. He describes in detail his actions, his thoughts and responses to what is going on around him and for some reason I find it gripping and read it very quickly. He turns his life inside out with all the contradictions, and self defeating thoughts and actions and inconsistencies. It is almost like reading about oneself. (Or at least myself). It has been said that reading the book is like opening up somebody else’s diary and finding your secrets in it.

So, I am looking forward to reading the other five. Only three so far have been translated into English but I am sure that it is just a matter of time.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is one of those books that is hard for me to categorize. A.J. Fikry is a widowed book seller in a small island town and is pretty darn prickly. The book opens with a pretty young publisher rep coming to present her employers line of books for the upcoming season and he pretty much throws her out after demeaning and insulting her. Then I find out that he is only in his 40’s which speaking as a sometimes crusty guy myself, that is way too young to be that crusty.

And then the storied part comes. Somebody steals a prized, very valuable book from him, somebody else leaves a baby in the store that he decides to raise and then the the pretty young bookseller comes back into the story. Given all that, I wouldn’t call this a “heart warming book” it is about a life that is lived with ups and downs and two steps backwards for every step forward. I loved the book and hated when it ended.

It is a rare book that me, my wife, and my MIL all loved. I’d loan you the copy I read but MIL wants it back.

I give it five stars.

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

#Oahu #Beaches #Sky #Ocean #Hawaii #Hipstamatic

Before our trip to Hawaii I asked my facebook pals for recommendations for vacation books. Anne from the UK recommended Alan Brennert’s Moloka’i. It is set in Hawaii in the early 1900’s. It sounded good to me so I loaded it up on the old Kindle and read it while on vacation.

It is a novel about a girl, Rachel Kalama, living in Honolulu in a very loving, extended family. All that changes dramatically when she is suspected of having leprosy and is separated from her family and is sent to a leper colony on the island of Moloka’i. The book is about her life there and I don’t want to give anything away but I loved this book. It is about life and death and making a life where you are. It describes terrible cruelty and great love. It has cultural references to the islander’s religion and describes some of the history and effects that the missionaries had on the island.

I give it five stars out of five. I had never heard of Alan Brennert before and I will be reading more of his work.