Reading Recommendations: The Undertow, a novel, Joe Baker
This is the story of the Hastings Family - their secrets, their loves and losses, dreams and heartbreaks, captured in a seamless series of individual moments that span the years between the First World War and the present. The novel opens in 1914 as William, a young factory worker, spends one last evening at home before his departure for the Navy. His son, Billy, grows into a champion cyclist and will ride into the D-Day landing on a military bicycle. His son in turn, Will, struggles with a debilitating handicap to become an Oxford professor in the 1960's. And finally young Billie Hastings makes a life for herself as an artist in contemporary London. Just as the names echo down through the family, so too does the legacy of choices made, chances lost, and truths long buried.I found this one hard to put aside!And, As Texas Goes, How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda, Gail CollinsGail Collins's fascination with Texas began rather abruptly in that distant spring of 2009 when she heard Governor Rick Perry, back to the wall, boots to the ground, address a Tea Party Rally full of passionate Texans who seemed to be interested in seceding from the Union. "How long has this been going on?" she wondered, on behalf of the nation. "Was it something that we said?"The more she looked at Texas, the more she realized it was at the heart of the American political story. The Tea Party had Texas roots, with its passion for states' rights and sense of persecution by an overreaching Washington. But Texas also seemed to be running the federal government it despised. Through its vigorous support of banking deregulation, which began with the savings and loan crisis of the 1980's and ended calamitously with the Wall Street crash of 2008, Texas's boot prints were deep.In education, Texas had managed both to be the model for the wildly influential "No Child Left Behind" law and to provide some of the loudest political voices calling for the law to be trashed. In energy, Texas was the heart of the "Drill-Baby-Drill" movement and the war against the whole concept of global warming.Collins brilliantly frames this national movement through the outsized behavior and inimitable swagger of some of Texas's most colorful and influential political figures.from former House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom Delay, who got into politics when the EPA banned his favorite fire ant repellant, to Perry himself, who when confronted with the fact that his state had the country's third highest teen pregnancy rate, defunded its Abstinence Only sex education policy by doggedly asserting "I'm just going to tell you from my own personal life, abstinence works."Digging beneath the veneer of cowboy hats, oil derricks and Alamo cries, the reader must, I say, read this book! If the reader can enjoy a good laugh at "us Texans", see some truth, loyalty and all that goes along, its a delightful read.And, one other book I'd like to mention - This Favored Place, The Texas Hill Country, Elroy Bode. Photography by Frederick C. Baldwin and Wendy V. Watriss.The sounds, the sights, the smells of the Texas Hill Country may assault or they might soothe the senses, but there is testimony a plenty that its cedar dotted hills and cypress edged rivers are unique and unforgettable. Writer Elroy Bode grew up in Kerrville, the heart of the Hill Country, and with uncommon awareness of his world, absorbed the essence of the distinctive land in his bones and heart.Because of his firm and confident sense of place, Elroy Bode is no mere painter with words. Complementing Bode's skillful prose, the photography of Wendy Watriss and Fred Baldwin preserves in wondrous perpetuity, the magnificent imagery of the Hill Country by black and white duo tones. Live again those early days we all love so well.From the Texas book shelves.
See you at Rylander.