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ALL THE NEWS I NEED: a novel ~Joan Frank

Monday, March 20th, 2017

ALL THE NEWS I NEED is full of wonderful words placed with delicate care and mixed with adjectives, which are perfection.  Frank’s has created a word salad that is filled with glorious descriptions of feelings and attitudes and fears and delights that just move the reader along the page onto the next and each new expression.  It was a heady trip into two lives contemplating being old and the losses of their lives.

ALL THE NEWS I NEED is the winner of the Juniper Prize for fiction.

The story moves at just the perfect pace to draw the reader into the lives of two well-described characters, who lead us to our own feelings about aging and the use of our time.  Do we walk and walk or read and read remembering to water the plants and do our shopping?  What are our habits and routines that keep us moving forward?

Fran and Ollie’s ‘rules for aging’ section makes this book well worth the price – actually the whole story makes the book a keeper.  I have bookmarked the rules and read them at least a dozen times.  They make me smile

From the cover:

All THE NEWS I NEED probes the modern American response to inevitable, ancient riddles – of love and sex and mortality.  Frances Ferguson is a lonely sharp-tongued widow who lives in the wine country.  Oliver Gaffney is a painfully shy gay man who guards a secret and lives out equally lonely days in San Francisco.  Friends by default; Fran and Ollie nurse the deep anomie of loss and the creeping, animal betrayal of aging.  Each loves routine but is anxious that life might be passing by.  To crack open this stalemate, Fran insists the two travel together to Paris.  The aftermath of their fun, bittersweet journey suggest those small changes, within our reach, that may help us save ourselves – somewhere toward the end.

I am sorry the publisher sent me this book so close to the review date as I would have loved to read it twice before writing the review, as it turned out I only had 3 days, so I will read it again and again at another time.  It is on the schedule for both of my book groups.

TLC Book Tours sent the book to me and Trish really insisted that I read this book, as she wanted to know my thoughts.  So here they are and I LOVED this book and now want to read some more of Frank’s words in the future.  Thank you so much.  ALL THE NEWS I NEED is definitely on the top of my list of great reads.

This book is perfect for those who have retired or suffered a loss and are curious about the next parts of life to launch for themselves.  It is really just a magnificent read for everyone.  Oh how important are those small changes that define and bring meaning.

“Joan Frank is a writer of sublime power who reveals the lives of her characters with such care, insight, and elegance, that deeply buried feelings of victory and loss become inextricably bound up with our own.” (Simon Van Booy, author of FATHER”S DAY)

JOAN FRANK is the author of five books of fiction and a collection of essays on the writing life.  She lives in Northern California with her husband, playwright Bob Duxbury.

www.joanfrank.org

“Joan Frank is a human insight machine.” —Carolyn Cooke

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STONE MATTRESS: Nine Tales ~Margaret Atwood

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

I discovered that I could pre-order this book a full month before it would appear on shelves at the library or bookstore, I did just that.  I just felt hungry for the incredible writing of Atwood and as though I had been fasting and not indulging for a very long time.   I was not disappointed in the least.   I have already read the tales twice and will come back again to enjoy.

“A collection of highly imaginative short pieces that speak to our times with deadly accuracy. Vintage Atwood creativity, intelligence, and humor: think Alias Grace.” (From Amazon’s page)

There is a creative psychological component to Atwood’s writing which just holds me to her words and the play she gives them.  The first three stories are loosely connected by an early on romance and Alphinland, Revenant, and Dark Lady play with growing old, loss of a partner, and the choices made early on in a life returning to be studied as the body can no longer comply.  Ice and snow and winter are big themes as is escape and control.

Lusus Naturae is about a child born with a defect and how she learns to cope with her situation; is it really coping or more the hiding mode? What society fears?  As a man is “kicked out” of his relationship he purchases a storage unit at an auction and is amazed to discover its contents and the preserved relationship within its walls.    I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth and The Dead Hand Loves You are again exploring the writer’s world and where it has taken the author  or the character and then brought them back with some kind of protection or blindness to deal with the reality of the moment.

Stone Mattress brought revenge on an artic discovery cruise for a horrible crime perpetrated on a young girl, which radically changed her life and future.  The writing was precise, cold and successful; a bit chilling for the reader.   Torching the Dusties is about a woman with Macular Degeneration who can only see the periphery of her world, she is living in a senior center that is now under siege by a group calling themselves “Our Turn” and burning down home care buildings and the residents living there.   Once again the theme is about growing old and coping, worth and vision, and adversity and control.   Fascinating story and I am so glad I read it a second time.

The political climate of the day is so subtle and yet shouts of what we do not hear clearly within all the noise around us in our world.

I am very fond of Margaret Atwood as a writer and she is so prolific I can honestly say I have not read all of her work or even come close – just the highlights.  I am very fond of short stories and combining that fondness with this author’s tremendous skill was a gift to my experience.   I could not put this book down and just enjoyed it cover to cover several times.   I rate this highly and humbly top of the line and believe my readers would not be disappointed and instead relish this book –  STONE MATRESS

From the book:

“MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in over thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays.  In addition to THE HANDMADE’S TALE, her novels include CAT’S EYE, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; ALIAS GRACE, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; THE BLIND ASSASSIN, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; and her most recent, ORYX AND CRAKE, shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize.  She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.”

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