Pulitzer Trilogies

October 5, 2009 at 1:27 pm | Posted in Book Blather | 4 Comments

Have you ever tried to figure out your answer to the old saw, “If you could only bring one book with you to a deserted island, which would it be?”  Have you then tried to cheat by trying to include a series as a single book?  (The usual candidate here is The Lord of the Rings, or at least it is in my crowd).

This is what the Pulitzer committee has been pulling over on us since the beginning.  There are no fewer than six trilogies and one four-book series on the list*, starting with the second fiction prize awarded.  The prize may technically be given to any of the three or four volumes, but the upshot is, if you wanna read the winner in its proper context, ya gotta read ’em all.

That was my plan at the beginning, anyway.  I was pleased to find that I enjoyed Booth Tarkington’s Growth trilogy much more than I would have if I had read The Magnificent Ambersons on its own.  I’d already read the first three Rabbit Angstrom books and I’m still looking forward to reading Rabbit at Rest in December.  Then I got to Louis Bromfield, and after 1168 pages, I started losing steam.

Now I’m at a sticking place.  I learned after finishing The Good Earth that it is indeed the first of a trilogy.  Quite frankly, it wasn’t my favorite, and I figured I would write off the other two volumes.  Immediately following, however, is Stribling’s The Store, the second of three.  It turns out I can’t get ahold of it locally, and if I want to complete the series it will cost me about $80.

So, I’m folding.  At least on these two.  The Store weighs in at a respectable 571 pages all by itself.  Unless an anonymous donor (or heckler) wants to send me copies of the other two books, I’m just going to pretend they don’t exist.  And be glad I didn’t promise to finish Proust this year.

* The Growth Trilogy, Booth Tarkington.  1919.  The Turmoil, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Midlanders.

Louis Bromfield.  1927.  The Green Bay Tree, Possession, Early Autumn.

The House of Earth Trilogy, Pearl S. Buck.  1932.  The Good Earth, Sons, A House Divided.

The Vaiden Trilogy, T. S. Stribling.  1933.  The Forge, The Store, The Unfinished Cathedral.

The Awakening Land Trilogy, Conrad Richter.  1951.  The Trees, The Fields, The Town.

The Rabbit Series, John Updike.  1991.  Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit is Rich; Rabbit at Rest.

The Frank Bascombe novels, Richard Ford.  1996.  The Sportswriter, Independence Day, The Lay of the Land.

“This is Where I Leave You”

October 5, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Posted in Fiction | 1 Comment

I almost missed reading this one.  Theoretically I should be focusing on the Pulitzers right now, since I still have 50 left.  Something made me throw caution to the winds, though, and I’m thrilled, because This is Where I Leave You is definitely one of my favorite reads of the year.  Jonathan Tropper is going places.

Product Details

It starts with the dialogue.  It’s pitch-perfect and hilarious.  My family also has a daughter and two sons, and our interactions with each other are oddly similar.  Anyone with a family of any description will feel right at home here.

This book is deeply funny, but also a little heartbreaking.  Beyond that, there are moments of startling honesty and clarity.  I absolutely loved it and I might even read it again.

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