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By the Book at the Bandera Library

by Michael Garr

Book Reviews
by Michael Garr,
Bandera Library Director

Let’s introduce you to some new authors this week.
Landing on the New York Times Bestseller list at #7 is Celeste Ng’s book, “Little Fires Everywhere.” "This incandescent portrait of suburbia and family, creativity, and consumerism burns bright. Ng conjures a sense of place and displacement and shows a remarkable ability to see--and reveal--a story from different perspectives. The characters she creates here are wonderfully appealing, and watching their paths connect--like little trails of flame leading inexorably toward one another to create a big inferno--is mesmerizing, casting into new light ideas about creativity and consumerism, parenthood and privilege. With her second novel, Ng further proves she's a sensitive, insightful writer with a striking ability to illuminate life in America."- Kirkus Reviews. The Bandera Library has two copies of this title available for circulation.
A new author to the Bandera Library is Nathan Englander, whose book is “Dinner at the Center of the Earth.” The flyleaf of the book describes the story. "A prisoner in a secret cell. The guard who has watched over him a dozen years. An American waitress in Paris. A young Palestinian man in Berlin who strikes up an odd friendship with a wealthy Canadian businessman. And The General, Israel's most controversial leader, who lies dying in a hospital, the only man who knows of the prisoner's existence. From these vastly different lives Nathan Englander has woven a ... portrait of a nation driven by insoluble conflict, even as the lives of its citizens become fatefully and inextricably entwined." And Booklist says, "The ability to see the world from both Israeli and Palestinian perspectives is what gives “Dinner at the Center of the Earth” its optimistic moral center. Both Israelis and Palestinians are faithful to the righteousness of their own cause, but at times, characters can see a way past this most charged of conflicts to a future of peace.... Yet while the novel is optimistic, it is also realistic. The violence, and the historical memory of past violence, keeps both sides addicted to carrying out further attacks in the name of retribution. Englander's ability to capture the almost pathological nature to 'get even' shines.”
Just arriving this week is another new author for the Bandera Library, Jennifer Egan. “Manhattan Beach” opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women can hold jobs that had always belonged to men. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. She is the sole provider for her mother, a farm girl who had a brief and glamorous career with the Ziegfeld Follies, and her lovely, severely disabled sister. At a nightclub, she chances to meet Dexter Styles again, and she begins to understand the complexity of her father's life, the reasons he might have vanished." This vivid description is from the author herself.
And lastly, a non-fiction book whose premise seemed timely in today’s world. “Nomadland” by Jessica Bruder looks at a new labor force in the US. "From the beet fields of North Dakota to the National Forest campgrounds of California to Amazon's CamperForce program in Texas, employers have discovered a new, low-cost labor pool, made up largely of transient older Americans. Finding that Social Security comes up short, often underwater on mortgages, these invisible casualties of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands in late-model RVs, travel trailers, and vans, forming a growing community of nomads: migrant laborers who call themselves 'workampers'"
We have seen some of them locally as they winter in Texas. It has always been one of my dreams to work for the National Park Service and move from park to park as a seasonal volunteer. A wife, grandkids and a Library job have interfered with the dream for the last ten years. Perhaps, when I finally retire, it may become reality.
The Friends of the Library are planning a “scary good” book sale for Saturday, Oct. 7 from 9 am-1 pm at the library. The treats include a huge selection of biography and large print books, along with a new infusion of fiction. The trick will be to find the ones that appeal to you. Christmas books, from cooking to crafts, classical LP’s, and music CD’s round out the special offerings.
The Friends of the Library raise money by selling books you donate. They both appreciate and rely on your generosity. Please remember that encyclopedias, professional books, or books that have NOT been stored in a climate controlled environment are not appropriate for their monthly sales. Bring your usable donations to the library during business hours and hand them off to staff.
During the sale, we will be visited by local Hill Country author, Valerie Massey Goree, who will be signing her books, now three novels. Valerie was born in South Africa and served as a missionary in Zimbabwe with her husband, where their two children were born. After 25 years in the Texas public school system working with special needs, she has retired and spends her time writing, reading and indulging in her favorite hobby — spoiling her granddaughter. Come meet Valerie at the Friends Book Sale. Read well and be safe!