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THE TALENTED RIBKINS: A Novel ~Ladee Hubbard

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Winner of the 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award

THE TALENTED RIBKINS was, “Inspired by W.E.B. Du Bois’s famous essay “The Talented Tenth” and fuelled by Ladee Hubbard’s marvelously original imagination, The Talented Ribkins is a big-hearted debut novel about race, class, politics, and the unique gifts that, while they may cause some problems from time to time, bind a family together. “

Johnny Ribkin has now reached his 70s and life should be much easier and it is not.  His mobster boss is demanding the return of some money that Johnny has been taking for pay and has hidden in buried important spots all over Florida.  As he follows his map of hidey – holes, he discovers that his brother left a 13-year-old daughter, who has a special talent and her mother cannot pay the mortgage.  Johnny ends up sharing his retrieved cash with Eloise’s Mother and then taking Eloise on his adventure to find his funds and introduce her to her family.  Actually, every descendant in the Rib King’s family tree has a special talent and they find themselves happy to use their talent to their best advantage.  The family has some most unusual talents!

Johnny, his brother and his cousins in their youth formed together to create a Justice Committee.  This group protected and assisted folks who were working on civil rights and political action.  They formed a bond that was difficult to break and yet they needed more funds to keep going, which ultimately broke up the group.  Johnny was still trying to create the perfect map for the future – he just needed more money.  He discovered lots of corruption among politicians and that often their word was not true and he got roped into helping a mobster lawyer steal.

Eloise is a bright young woman working out very carefully how her talent might be useful to her and her future.  She enjoys learning about her family and their talents as she travels with her Uncle Johnny.  Her family is very funny and her curiosity creates a backdrop for the story to unfold.  The duo is on a mission and it is wonder full.

“For sheer reading pleasure Ladee Hubbard’s original and wildly inventive novel is in a class by itself.” —Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize-winning author of The Bluest Eye, Beloved, and Song of Solomon

“Crafty and wistful…Hubbard weaves this narrative with prodigious skill and compelling warmth. You anticipate a movie while wondering if any movie could do this fascinating family…well, justice. To describe this novel, as someone inevitably will, as Song of Solomon reimagined as a Marvel Comics franchise is to shortchange its cleverness and audacity.” —Kirkus, starred review

I enjoyed every page, the interesting writing style and the clever story.  The interesting politics and discoveries were just an added bonus.  Ah the bonds of family – THE TALENTED RIBKINS

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“Ladee Hubbard is the winner of the 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award and the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition for the Short Story. She holds a BA from Princeton University, an MFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University, an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin, and a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. She lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Talented Ribkins is her first novel.”

Ladee Hubbard Facebook

Related:
Gypsy Mother Summer
A Tale For The Time Being
Language Arts

Lunch With Buddha ~Roland Merullo

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012


Lunch With Buddha is a second road trip with Otto Ringling and Voyla Rinpoche which begins in Washington State and takes us to North Dakota.   The first road trip for these two can be found in the Merullo novel of 2007 called Breakfast With Buddha.   I discovered this book in May of 2009 and so enjoyed it that I put it on my summer reading list and reviewed the book on my own.

I was just roaming around Amazon and this opening paragraph on the Amazon review of Breakfast with Buddha just snagged my full attention:

“The only thing certain about a journey is that it has a beginning and an end – for you never know what may happen along the way. And so it is with this journey into the minds and souls of two very different men – one of them in search of truth, the other a man who may already have found it.”

Lunch With Buddha  is a new road trip, because Ringling has made a promise to his wife that he will scatter her ashes in a mountain spot where they went camping when they were newly married.  It is seven months after the death of his wife from cancer and it is time to take care of his promise.  The Buddhist monk in the first story is now his brother-in-law and the father of his 5 year old niece.   The retreat center on the family farm in North Dakota is up and running and after the family returns the ashes to the earth, the two men are to drive a gift truck back to the retreat center.

Merullo actually took this trip with his children in order to write this second book which must be going to become a trilogy. (I expect in a few years that we will see the Dinner with Buddha on the book shelves – The stage has been set)  My copy of the novel came complete with photographs of the various locations that they shared and the specialty meals that they enjoyed.  I have always wanted to go to CAVE B  and the Grand Coulee Dam  but because I live in Washington State we just go past those spots getting to someplace else.

There is as much detail about the other states that the team travels through also and their swim in Yellowstone is a delightful segment I thoroughly enjoyed.  The duo are very respectful of each other as Ringling moves from grief to mourning and the Monk assists in the letting go and looking towards the future and the teaching of his child to use her gifts.  The current US elections add to the story line and the conversation and the characters that they meet along the way add an extraordinary dimension and quirkiness to the journey.

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When TLC book Tours asked me to review this book, I just jumped right up in the air – no lie – and happy danced.  In the wakeful moments of the past three years when I just could not sleep, I have read  Breakfast With Buddha  3 more times.  It just delights me and calms me down into a centered space.  The questions that Otto Ringling is asking are the questions that I am contemplating.  The book can pull me away from worry and anger in just a moment or two of reading.


When the Independent publisher, contacted me early on, I joined the Facebook page for Lunch with Buddha and sent out a huge “bring it on” message.   I had so much trouble waiting that I purchased another book by Merullo in the mean and explored his other words.  I chose A Little Love Story I was not disappointed.   I just enjoy Merullo’s style – play with words and ideas.

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I am filled with gratitude for having been given a copy of this book to read and I say a huge thank you. The book also supports an Independent publishing company, PFP Publishing and that feels good too.  TLC and Newtonville Books are offering up a free copy of this book for the best comment – so what would you like to say?  What questions would ask the author?

Sometimes a second story on the same pathway is not so wonderful – this was not the case with LUNCH WITH BUDDHA It was a joy to read and explore. I was fully engaged in the road trip, every mile of the way.

Lunch with Buddha home page
Roland Merullo web page

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.  Donations also welcomed.

Related Reading:
Breakfast With Buddha
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Walter’s Muse