While at T. C. Boyle . . .

October 29, 2012, by

T.C. Boyle said that one of his teachers in elementary school—Mr. Carter—would bribe the class to behave with a promise that he’d read them a story at the end of the week. Touring on the release of a novel, San Miguel, Boyle was in town to read his own story for the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series earlier this month.

He stepped on stage at the Alley Theater in a buttercream jacket and red vintage Nikes. He’d arrived from London that weekend, in time to take in the Alley’s production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Recalling the pleasure he took from the play, the pleasure of listening to his teacher read to him, Boyle said he wanted to share with us not an except from San Miguel but a story, something “with a beginning, a middle, and an end.”

“I’d used up all my sick days,” he began. Continue reading

“Readers,” Junot Diaz said, “are just happy to see you.”

October 5, 2012, by

Last Monday, over a thousand of us were. We’d come to Wortham Center to see him open the 32nd year of the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series. Diaz—whose 2008 trip was nixed by Hurricane Ike—took the stage wearing dark jeans and running shoes. (Those of us who by now have read his latest collection, This is How You Lose Her, might be forgiven the desire to conflate these running shoes with Yunior’s, he of the depression-abating miles logged along the Charles River and the ruinous plantar fasciitis.)

Diaz shaded his eyes and looked into the crowd. He’d given readings, he said, at which the only people were his best friend and the guy’s fiancee, who would dump him later that night. After thanking us for coming and thanking Inprint for, as he said, “just existing,” then playfully cursing his favorite bookstore—“Damn you, Brazos,” he said. “I spent $300 there today”—Diaz read two short sections from This is How You Lose Her. Continue reading

Son of The Giver: A Review

October 4, 2012, by

I couldn’t wait to start reading Lois Lowry’s new book, Son.  I loved The Giver , Gathering Blue, and Messenger, the other books in the series.  Although it had been probably twelve years since I last read it, I remembered many of the details of The Giver and a little from the other books.  I thought about rereading The Giver before starting Son, but decided I would just dig in and read the book as if I were a new reader approaching it.  Of course, my previous knowledge about the community influenced and supported my beginning reading, but I believe the book stands on its own.

Son opens with fourteen-year-old Claire in the process of giving birth.  She has been given the job of “birthmother” in the community, although she is told nothing about the process of giving birth.  I found myself instantly drawn in to the drama of this young woman, a 14 year-old, giving birth and knowing nothing about what was happening to her or about her child after the birth.  I remembered how in The Giver, the people of the community had no free will, were assigned jobs, went through life without emotions, color, rain, or sunshine.   Similarly, in the first section of Son, Claire gives birth by caesarian to a child who is immediately taken away from her at birth.   She is expected not to care about what happens to him.  But in the confusion surrounding a difficult birth and her reassignment to the Fish Hatchery, Claire isn’t given the pills that prevent emotion.   Claire cannot forget her baby and is willing to risk her life to find him. Continue reading