These tiles are the best of the year for me:
3. GALORE - Michael Crummey
This book was populated with such interesting characters and an isolated life of a group of people on the Newfoundland coast that is defies description. The book starts out with a beached whale that the villagers are waiting on to die so they can harvest and when they do a man is born from the belly of the whale. Pale as alabaster with a shock of white hair and stinks of fish. He is pulled from the belly by
Devine's Widow who was old when this started and lived longer yet. A witch some say. They argue over what to call him - Jonah or Judas and settle on Judah. Then, there is the priest who has been as outcast of the Catholic Church who administers to the faithful and sleeps with Virtue when he is in town and talks to the ghost of her dead husband who killed a man and cant seem to leave the place. There is King-me Sellers who owns most everything and and tries to own everyone, but fails.
It is also a book about the things that pull people together and push them apart both big and small. The look or the lack of a word that sets a marriage on a path that does not change for 50 years.
4. WE, THE DROWNED - Carsten Jensen
"Sunlight shone right through this cloud, which was slowly approaching us, though there was still no wind. It seemed to pulsate, as if there was a whirlwind inside it, shaking the leaves of a dense forest. Then the cloud was upon us, and fleetingly we felt as though we were being showered with the withered leaves of an autumn forest. Then I realized it wasn't dead foliage, but living creatures whirling around us, fluttering silky yellow wings. We were in the center if a vast swarm of butterflies."
The novel is a history of a sailing community and the lives of the sailors and those they leave behind. Those that come home and those that do not. It is beautifully written.
5. DOC - Mary Doria Russell
This novel covers the time before the Tombstone shootout. It begins in Georgia when John Holliday was a child and lived on a large plantation with his mother and cousins and follows how he developed into the man he became. How tuberculosis first came into his life and changed the course of his entire life. He would never have sought a drier warmer climate if it had not been for this disease and would not have met the Earps who became his brothers or Kate who became his on again off again life long partner. Most of the novel takes place in Dodge during the cattle driving lawless years. When brothels, gambling, and drink were all that Dodge was and fortunes could be made or lost on a hand of faro or poker.
The way Doc speaks and the mannerisms that he uses are all clearly and beautifully described. He was educated to be a surgical dentist and had a practice in town along with fleecing cowboys at cards. He did hot deal from the bottom but could count the cards- which was not illegal at the time. Val Kilmer got him down to a tee. The saying, "Well isn't that a daisy." is used a couple of times. A description near the end of the book when Doc and Kate are walking to a party; "They strolled toward town, stopping now and then to let him catch his breath and to gaze upward, for the west Kansas sky is black velvet on clear, cool December nights, and the Milky Way is strung across it like the diamond necklace of a crooked banker's mistress." Highly Recommended.
6. THE WAKE OF FORGIVENESS - Bruce Machart
This book is about the things that divide us and keep us apart. The book begins with the death of the mother in childbirth and how the husband is hardened to life and his sons after that. He hitches them to the plow instead of the oxen and when they are grown their necks lean to the direction that they would pull. The only relief for the main character is racing is fathers prize horse in races in which money and land has been bet. One day a Spanish man and his daughters arrive in town looking for husbands and everything changes...
7. ONCE ON A MOONLESS NIGHT - Dai Sijie
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