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IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING: A Novel ~Austin Ratner

You will want to read this book – I am sure of it, as it is such an enjoyable read and Austin Ratner has such a powerful way with words.   IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING went everywhere with me for 2 full days; I could not put it down and I am giving it as birthday gifts to two very good friends and writers because it is such a great read.

Writers need to read other good wordsmiths.

It is a father-son saga, with Jewish circumference.  It is an immigration story and the follow up of the lives that came after.  It is a medical story about all the aches and pains that remove love from your journey and forces an individual into new directions.  And then, there is that persistent truth that one cannot live another’s life for them.  What makes brothers get along/bond? What do they teach each other if they are honest and able to communicate well?

IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING is divided into three parts which are centered on a specific character; the first part is the story of the Father, the second part is the story of one of that Father’s sons, and the third part is the story of the two sons, a road trip, and the eventual atonement.

The back story of the Father comes at the reader like a hyperactive child who is behaving similarly to  a random sniper attack or in machine gun mode.  For a while I did not know if the boy was 4 years old or 13 and making his moves.  I did know that the stories of his mother’s death at a young age, his father’s abuse towards the boys and his own drive were in play constantly as he grieved, raged, and grew.  He is brilliant and works very diligently to achieve his goals and the rewards he dreams for do come his way and helping hands, minds and love are to be his, but only for a brief interlude.   It is a powerful format and the stories I have read by these male authors this summer have been amazingly deft at this style of  producing satisfying stories.

I loved the words in this story.  They just would not let me go and I would flip back 4 pages to look something up and find the subtle innuendo of explanation.  I got out my Yiddish dictionary!  The name calling and “boys will be boys” slang and gaming were near perfection.  It did not hurt that it was so Cleveland, where I spent 3 years in high school being an outsider, and that on the road trip the fellows were headed to my hometown and stopped at the side trips, diners, and hikes that I know so well.   The boys caught the surface of the far west, but missed the depth altogether and that made me laugh.

This is Austin Ratner’s  second novel.  He has won a number of awards for his first, THE JUMP ARTIST,  and he was raised in Cleveland, Ohio,  received an MD degree from John Hopkins School of Medicine, and is currently the clinical assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine living in Brooklyn with his wife and two sons.   If he does surgery the way he writes, then I am sure I would trust him as much as his mother does.


tlc logoThis was a book sent to me by TLC online book tours for review and Reagan, Arthur Books, Little, Brown and Company Publishers.   I enjoyed reading this book and hope you will also; I highly recommend IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING.

I am only reviewing books these days that I consider 4 or 5 stars, I occasionally do a 3 star review because I think other folks will like the book more than I did, I am still not reviewing the 1 or 2 star books because someone spent a long time producing that book and does not need my unhelpful words in promoting their efforts.

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s by linking from this site, I will receive a few blossom$ in my bouquet.  Thank you.  Donations also welcomed.

Related Reading:
A Dual Inheritance 
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
The Idea Factory
I Never Promised You A Goodie Bag

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10 Responses to “IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING: A Novel ~Austin Ratner”

  1. Sara Says:

    I always trust a book you cannot put down:~) That’s high praise for the author. I also liked that you are giving this book to some of your writer friends and this line: “Writers need to read other good wordsmiths.” LOL, but also very true.

    While not my genre, your words tempt very much to sample this book. I will check it out at Amazon. If not for me, it is perfect for a friend of mine whose birthday happened recently. So, thanks, Patricia!
    Sara recently posted..SPC: Penny for your thoughtsMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    Hey Sara,
    Nice to find you here today and I know you have posted something terrific on your website today also…will jump on over in a couple

    I have read a number of sweet and beautiful stories recently, this one was driving and different and I do think the author had a way with words that just drew me into the story. And yes, I read it in bed and only dozed the last night until I finished it…I just liked the story – and the words.

    I hope your friend will like it. I think the Amazon review I read after I finished my review – I might not have picked the book up, It just took away too much of the story and I would have missed a gem read

  2. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea Says:

    I hadn’t heard of this one, but I do like the sound of it –on the list it goes –thanks Pat
    Diane@BibliophilebytheSea recently posted..The House at the End of Hope Street; Menna van PraagMy Profile

    Patricia Reply:

    Hope you enjoy it as much as I did

  3. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    On the way home from a speaking engagement this morning, I stopped at the resale store to donate my summer reading books, and pick up my autumn reading. I got six books (whoohoo!) and I’m looking forward to delving into the pages of each one. Why do I share this with you? I applaud what you said:

    “Writers need to read other good wordsmiths.”

    Patricia Reply:

    How exciting. New books. Lucky you. I think reading other writers words is very important. And at times extremely inspiring. Happy you included us on your busy day

  4. Talon Says:

    If he knows how to use words, I’m right there, Patricia. I’m stocking up for my winter reading (when I do most of my pleasure reading) so this will go on the buy list. :)

    LOVE your reviews.

    Patricia Reply:

    If you like the Dual Inheritance – I am certain you will like this one.

    I received a proof copy with lots of mistakes and no page numbers and I thought it was a great read

  5. Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours Says:

    Wow, this book certainly had an impact on you! I’m thrilled to see that you’ll be giving copies as gifts.

    Thanks for being on the tour. I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

    Patricia Reply:

    Yep, I really did like this book and all the great words…

    Thank you for the shout out!
    Patricia recently posted..THE LADY’S MAID: A Novel ~Dilly CourtMy Profile