Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Testament

The TestamentThe Testament by John Grisham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always think of John Grisham as a lawyer who hates the practice of law so much that he would rather expose the sleaze-bags who practice law than be one. When I read one of his books, I always expect to read about the worst money-grubbing lawyer tactics.

It was no surprise when I got a lot of that from The Testament. The swarm of lawyers contesting the last will and testament of a billionaire were sleazy to the point of being comic. But there was another testament. I didn't expect Grisham to get spiritual on me. One alcohol-abusing, cocaine snorting, womanizer "gets saved."

It's a good read. It almost lost me in the Brazilian Pantanal. Between the alligators, anaconda, mosquitos, and torrential rains, I wondered what it had to do with the testament, but it all worked for good. There was no murder, just a gradual unraveling of "how do we make this work."

View all my reviews

Monday, March 21, 2011

I'm fighting back!!

When I left the house suddenly yesterday afternoon, I told hubby I was going to buy another eReader. He looked at me like I had lost my mind. He just gave me a Kindle for my birthday in October.

What had happened wuz...Borders Books is in bankruptcy, and the stores that are closing are selling everything down to the walls for a big discount. I had just read in the Kindlecorner yahoo group that I could get a Kobo Ereader for $59.99.

Don't get me wrong, I luuurve my Kindle. But it only reads book formatted specifically for Kindle, and not the books I can get from the public library. What does that have to do with fighting back, you may ask.

Over the last month or so, the big New York publishers have entered into what they are calling "Agency Pricing" for eBooks. From my perspective, it means they don't get it, and are pricing best sellers at almost the same price as the print copy.

I started reading the Stieg Larsson books after I got my Kindle. I purchased the first in the series for $5.00, the second one I got for $7.57. Then I started watching the price on the third and final book in the series. It was $9.99, and I was expecting it to drop. Two weeks ago under the new pricing deal, it went to $11.99.

I can get it for free from the Wake County Library, but not on my Kindle. So I spent $59.99 to save $2.00. Of course that's not the only book I can get from the library. I got on the waiting list to get "The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" last night. I'm number 95. I hope I'm not out of town when my number comes up, since they give you 3 days to respond. I also signed up for 3 other books, so I can practice the download thing from the library.

The Kobo is a little clunkier than the Kindle. It got stuck a few times while I was getting it set up. I was able to copy my own book, Motherless Child - stories from a life since I created an epub version on And the Kobo comes with 100 classics already (Including Tom Sawyer with the N-word.) I won't run out of reading material for a long time. Maybe the big publishers will come to their senses eventually.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Warmth of Other Suns

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great MigrationThe Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have one word to describe this book...Brilliant. It was my book club's selection for this month, and I feared that I wouldn't be able to finish the massive 640 pages before our club meeting. As it turns out, the 640 pages includes the Epilogue, notes on Methodology, the acknowledgements, the permissions to use passages (poems, songs, speeches) from previoously copyrighted works, and footnotes. OHHH..., the footnotes, all 446 of them.

Ms. Wilkerson started the research for this book in 1995. She commented when I saw her in Chapel Hill last month that if this book were a child, it would be dating by now. Her research included over 1200 interviews of people involved in the Great Migration of blacks escaping the Jim Crow South for better lives in the North and West. She met them in churches, meetings of civic and social clubs in the locations where people left, and the cities where they landed, in a Great Migration that started after the first World War and continued into the 1970's.

What sounds at first like a huge sociological study becomes very personal as she follows the lives of three individuals. Ida Mae Gladney was a sharecropper in Mississippi who moved to Chicago in 1937. George Starling moved from the orange groves of Florida to New York in 1945. Robert Pershing Foster, a physician, moved from Lousiana to Los Angeles in 1953. As we read about their personal reasons for leaving, Ms Wilkerson interweaves citations from Newspapers during those times to give weight to the personal stories.

At times it is not an easy read because she cites reports of lynching after lynching with all of the gruesome dtails. There were days that I just closed the book and cried. When Ida Mae met with housing discrimination in Chicago, Ms Wilkerson cites reports that gave the big picture of the reaction of European immigrants who committed violent acts rather than live in the same block with the new immigrants from the South. She also used testimony from family and friends left behind to fill in the gaps where Ida Mae, George, and Robert may not have been, or may have forgotten.

Ida Mae, George, and Robert never meet, but Ms Wilkerson pulls together the similarities and differences in their lives as they reach thier individual "Promised Land." I thought it was particulalry brilliant the way she tied in the studies from Commissions troughout history such as the reports folllowing the Chicago Riots of 1919 (Chicago Commission on Race Relations, The Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race Relations and a Race Riot), and the 1968 Report from the Kerner Commission.

When we reach the end of the book, she has been with each of those three even until death. Their lives have become so much of her family that she can't let it go until she helps usher them on to the beyond.

I tried to think how my family fits into this Great Migration. My parents didn't leave the south, but my siblings and I did. There was not the threat of lynching in Petersburg VA as there was in Mississippi following Reconstruction on through the Civil Rights Era. We didn't have the urgency to leave. My oldest sister settled in Washington DC after college; two of my brothers moved to Washington, DC after the Korean War; a third brother to New York, and a fourth to Colorado after he retired from the military. After my mother died, I went to live with a brother in Washington where I attended high school. When it came time for me to choose a college, I did not consider the HBCU's that my siblings attended; I looked North because of the possibility of better jobs when I graduated. And then I was the first to return to the South in 1975, making me a part of the reverse migration.

The Warmth of Other Suns is a book for every American. For those of us whose families lived through The Great Migration, it gives solid facts to back up the history that we knew anecdotally, or learned piecemeal in secret from teachers in segregated schools. And for those who never understood the depth and breadth of the discrimination in this country, this book is for you.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Oral Galvanic Effect

I had two fillings replaced in my teeth last week. My dentist took great care in making sure my upper and lower teeth came together correctly. I did the bite on the carbon paper thing several times until I felt comfortable.

On the way home, the Novocaine wore off. I bit my teeth together, and it was like an electric shock in my mouth. But if I bit firmly, there was no shock. I had other errands to run, and didn't have time to go right back to the dentist. Besides, I thought maybe the trauma in my mouth needed to settle down, and I would feel better.

When I ate dinner later, I had no pain from biting or chewing food. It was just from those bare teeth with fillings coming into place. Lucky for me that I wear a mouth guard at night so my teeth won't clench, or I would never have gotten to sleep.

I gave it a few more days before I called my dentist. No, my tooth doesn't hurt. Gums don't hurt. Not sensitive to hot or cold. It's just that electric shock thing. He told me to come in and he would adjust my bite again.

When I went in, he had me bite on that carbon paper stuff again, and I didn't get a shock with the paper between my teeth. Conclusion: Galvanic Effect. It was the metal touching metal that was sending a jolt through my mouth. It took my dentist about five minutes to grind down a couple of spots, so my mouth was fine again.

Something new every day!!!