Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lamb in His Bosom - Winner, 1934

Lamb in His Bosom
By: Caroline Miller
Harper & Brothers, 1933

In her book, Lamb in His Bosom, Caroline Miller portrays the lives of an extended family living in backwoods Georgia in the years leading up to and during the Civil War. It follows each member of the family through the years, focusing especially on the daughter, Cean Smith (nee Carver) who is recently married at the beginning of the book. Miller provides a beautiful description of the trials and joys of life and dependence on God in the rural South and I found myself truly drawn into the lives of these characters.

What truly interested me most about this book was the fact that I had also recently finished Gone With the Wind (Pulitzer winner, 1937). Both stories took place in Georgia in overlapping time periods but from opposite viewpoints. I believe that if Scarlett O'Hara lived near the Smiths and Carvers she would have dismissed them - using her term "white trash" - but these families were so much more. We see that, while they don't own plantations or slaves, they work hard and make a good living - even affording small luxuries at times. They know no other way of life and, so, have no other expectations than what comes. It was fascinating to compare the two stories of different classes of Georgians from the same period.

My favorite things to read about, whether it is fiction or non-fiction, are the ways that people live their lives everyday. Lamb in His Bosom provided me with a vivid picture of rural life unlike any I had read before. I wholeheartedly recommend it to all!

The image above is the first edition cover art published by Harper & Brothers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

House Made of Dawn - 1969

House Made of Dawn
By: N. Scott Momaday
Harper & Row, 1968

N. Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn provides an interesting look into the struggles Native Americans who come from reservations to find identity. He follows the life of a young man named Abel who has returned to his reservation in New Mexico after fighting in World War II. He has been deeply affected by the war and struggles to hold a job and maintain relationships. Abel moves to California to try to find himself but eventually realizes that he will only find himself back home on the reservation.

Momaday based his story on his life experiences as a Native American and on the real experiences of other Native Americans. I found the book a bit difficult to follow and was not surprised to discover after reading that it was originally intended to be a collection of poems. There were times that the story felt a bit disjointed for me. I do think that he provides an interesting perspective on real issues for the Native American community and would be interested to hear how Native Americans read it today.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bybee's Results for 2009 and Plans for 2010

I threw myself into a frenzy of hunting and gathering Pulitzer fiction when I was back in the USA during February and July that I'm a little surprised that I only read 3 Pulitzers last year!

They were:

  • Lonesome Dove - Larry McMurtry

  • The Bridge of San Luis Rey - Thornton Wilder

  • Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth Strout

For some reason, The Bridge of San Luis Rey caught on like crazy among my coworkers. I was surprised but pleased that my copy has been read and enjoyed by several readers.

During 2010, I really want to make some headway on the list. I'm more than halfway through, so this is the time for a little push. I'm eager to read The Way West by A.B. Guthrie, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, and American Pastoral by Philip Roth.

Although I am never NEVER correct, I'd like to go ahead and try to predict the 2010 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction: The Help by Kathryn Stockett or American Rust by Philipp Meyer.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Laura's 2010 Goals & Progress

I've been working on this perpetual challenge since 2007.  In 2009, my goals was to read 6 Pulitzer winners, and I achieved that goal.  I've now read more than 25 of the 80+ winners, and I've decided I'm not really trying to complete the list; however, there is some good literature to be found here!  My 2010 goal is to read another 6, including the 2010 winner.

Pulitzer Prize Winners Read in 2010 (will post as completed)
2005 - Gilead (Robinson) - review
2010 - Tinkers (Harding) - review

A complete set of my Pulitzer Prize winner reviews can be found here.