Wednesday August 16, 2017

Binge-Worthy Books

By Scott West

Just off a few days of vacation and I had the great pleasure of knocking out a few books. While the selection was most definitely eclectic, they were each valuable in their own way.

The first book was Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys.  I was quite the devotee of HP Lovecraft as a young man but, as I grew older, struggled with his obvious bigotry.  I face the same issues with Kipling.  Emrys, for her part, works hard to redeem Lovecraft for a new generation of readers (see also Victor LaValle's Ballad of Black Tom).  Aphra Marsh, one of the last surviving members of the destroyed community at Innsmouth, is recruited by the FBI to investigate Soviet efforts to use supernatural forces during the Cold War.  The group that evolves around her is a memorable way to recognize Lovecraft's continued influence.  Find it in the Leisure Reading Collection.

The second book was Garnethill by Denise Mina.  I found this book in the Cameron Collection (5th floor of Roesch Libray) and, as I usually don't follow this genre, I was glad of the gamble.  Mina's debut effort is a tense piece of mystery/suspense.  It follows the efforts of Maureen O'Donnell to find who brutally murdered her therapist boyfriend.  Additional themes regarding mental illness, sexual abuse, and the urban poverty of Glasgow (Scotland) make this book even more interesting.

Finally, and very different, is Raymond Williams's Border Country. I found a reference to this book in the Times Literary Supplement and, as it is set in a region of Wales close to where I lived as a boy, I found it on OhioLINK. Matthew Price is called back to his native village of Glynmawr when his father suffers a debilitating stroke.  These events trigger a series of recollections by the father, Harry Price, and a existential crisis for the son as they confront the changes confronting their world.  Most significantly, the book should resonate with anyone struggling with changes to their world.  In the case of the Prices, the changes they face run the gamut of social, cultural, and economic realities of Wales in the years after World War II.  These are themes that continue to impact us today.

A bit of a literary stomach ache but it was worth it.

- Scott West, Information Resources Specialist

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