delicious foods

One of my most recent library loans was Delicious Foods by James Hannaham. I’d heard nothing but awesome things and had to check it out! From Goodreads:

Darlene, a young widow and mother devastated by the death of her husband, turns to drugs to erase the trauma. In this fog of grief, she is lured with the promise of a great job to a mysterious farm run by a shady company, with disastrous consequences for both her and her eleven-year-old son, Eddie—left behind in a panic-stricken search for her.

The story immediately grabbed my attention, starting with Eddie speeding on a highway after both his hands were severed. (Not a spoiler since it literally is in the first paragraph!) We don’t know how it happened, or why at that point, but damn—that’s a brutal, shocking way to start and I was hooked. Hannaham does an incredible job keeping you turning pages, especially with the alternating narratives in third-person for Eddie’s side of the story, and first-person for Darlene’s in the form of Scotty, the crack-cocaine to which she is addicted. Giving voice to the drug and having it “speak” for Darlene was a pretty brilliant move and it worked for me—a few chapters in I was like, who IS this?? and once it clicked for me I was even more intrigued.

I’m pretty tough when it comes to dark, disturbing material but the conditions at the farm had me wincing. I later learned that this book was inspired by true events, making it even more upsetting. Hannaham also writes his scenes of abuse, manipulation, desperation, and violence in such a way that elicited a visceral reaction from me.

I guess if I have one quibble about the book it may be that it was a just hair too long for me, but that didn’t take away from my reading enjoyment. Delicious Foods is a dramatic social commentary on modern-day slavery, a shameful reality that exists in America today, as well as the power of addiction.

Read from May 19 to 31, 2015.

the worst hard time

More catching up on old reviews for my Bout of Books 10 goals! The March pick for my library book group was The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan, about the Dust Bowl. From Goodreads:

The dust storms that terrorized the High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since. Timothy Egan’s critically acclaimed account rescues this iconic chapter of American history from the shadows in a tour de force of historical reportage. Following a dozen families and their communities through the rise and fall of the region, Egan tells of their desperate attempts to carry on through blinding black dust blizzards, crop failure, and the death of loved ones.

I already had this as an ebook so I was happy to see it picked for our library book group! Unfortunately I was sick and couldn’t attend the meeting at the end of March… which probably worked out for the best since I hadn’t finished reading it by then anyway :-/ I was still interested, though, so I plowed (ha) through to the end, finishing mid-April.

I knew a little bit about the Dust Bowl already from school, Ken Burns’s documentary, and just living in this region for more than ten years. But I hadn’t really thought much about exactly how these storms effected the country, the economy, and specifically the people who lived in their paths. Egan’s book really laid it all out on the table for you: the residents’ hunger, frustration, fear, desperation, poverty… and also their hopefulness, strength, perseverance, and tenacity. I found his descriptions and portraits of the residents to be full of life and character, really fleshing out these people as actual real people who lived through this devastating time (and some of those who didn’t).

Once in a while I did feel like the writing was a bit dry and certain things repetitious, but I suppose that’s how life was in No Man’s Land for so long. Egan hammered home exactly how the dust and dirt smelled, looked, felt—how it was unstoppable and crept in through every minuscule crack, embedded itself in your clothing, pores, lungs, eyes, everywhere. I can’t even imagine having to live through something like that, and for more than a decade straight. Egan also minces no words blaming humans for this agricultural disaster, which is totally deserved and appropriate. Great, fascinating read on American agricultural history!

Read from March 17 to April 19, 2014.

it’s monday! what are you reading?

It’s Monday, what are you reading?—a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

STILL reading The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan. Totally didn’t finish in time for the library group discussion, and after missing the discussion anyway I didn’t really feel like I needed to rush through it anymore. I’m having trouble reading on a screen lately, too. I spend all day at a computer! Just don’t want to look at screens in my free time much lately. I need time to unwind and unplug after work (and after my computer work at home for my second job AFTER my FT job workdays. Sigh. I love being busy but this time of year can be a little much sometimes!)

So I’m slogging through The Worst Hard Time a bit but I did manage to finish The Martian by Andy Weir this weekend. I bet if I had a little more free time I could have read it all in just a couple of days; it was a pretty quick read. Not perfect, but I enjoyed it. Hoping to have a blog post up on my full thoughts this week!

Last night I started The Round House by Louise Erdrich. It’s not part of any of my challenges. But I just have all these beautiful books I bought as “retail therapy” during my moving trauma in 2013, and this one jumped out at me last night.

What are you reading this week?

it’s monday! what are you reading?

It’s Monday, what are you reading?—a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Well, I’m still working on The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan for my library book group (meeting’s on Wednesday, eeeek!!) Just too darn busy to get hardly any reading done! Not only the usual work/rehearsal stuff that naturally amps up this time of year, of course we’re trying to get our taxes done and have had family scheduled to visit in March. But yeah I’m only about 40% in… wish me luck for finishing before the group discussion!

Other than that I’m dipping my toes into The Martian
by Andy Weir
this week. My husband already read it and loved it, and I’ve only read a couple of chapters… so far I’m still trying to get used to the main character’s tone and delivery, and then the “tell” vs. “show” style of the book. But, it’s a fairly easy, quick read from what I can tell and I’ve enjoyed the start.

What are you reading this week?

it’s monday! what are you reading?

It’s Monday, what are you reading?—a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I finished reading The Hot House by Pete Earley yesterday! It was the second book for my TBR Pile Challenge. That one took me about a week longer than I would have expected, but I had a couple of particularly busy weeks with extra rehearsals, a concert, working through lunch a bit, and my parents visiting last weekend. I liked the book a lot though—it was a real page turner and it made me want to rewatch my Oz DVDs! I’m planning to have a review post up later this week. Stay tuned!

This week I’m going to read The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan. This is my KC Library Stranger than Fiction book group’s March pick. Hopefully I will make it through and not get sick this month, I hate to miss the discussions! Anyway, I’ve had this ebook on my iPad for a while now, so it’s also a little bit of a TBR pile book, but I’m not counting it on my “official” list for the challenge. I know about the Dust Bowl already from knowing about Woody Guthrie and literature from that time, but I’m happy to be reading a non-fiction about it, especially since I live near-ish the Dust Bowl area now.

What are you reading this week?