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By Steve Kluger
There’s not an avid page turner who doesn’t have favorite characters from American literature.
For me it was always Huck Finn, Jay Gatsby, Holden Cauldfield, Atticus Finch and Ignatius J. Reilly. . . hell Br’er Rabbit for that matter.
But now, having read Steve Kluger’s Last Days of Summer (1998 William Morrow), I’m of the humble opinion that one Joey Margolis of Brooklyn, New York, may just top them all.
Never have I read a character that can hold a candle to Margolis. Or hold a gun to the little beggar (for that matter), which most of the people who come into contact with him—at one time or another—at least threaten to do. Read More »
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By Bill Bryson
Writing nostalgia can be tricky. Experiencing sentimental longings or wistful affections for the past is one thing. Presenting these emotions in a way that enables a reader to readily identify with the writer’s past, well that’s another.
So, should any creative writing teachers out there find themselves looking for a textbook, one that might help students better understand this delicate, challenging genre, here’s a thought.
Try The Life and Times of the THUNDERBOLT KID, by Bill Bryson.
In this hilarious, keenly insightful memoir one will find all the ingredients that make for a great reminiscence–identifiable characters (parents, teachers, adults in general), annoying traits (the human condition so fill in the blank here), historic markers (products, entertainment, America’s Civil Defense), the setting of time and place (home town when the good old USA was the good old USA). Read More »
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Travels In Small-Town America
By Bill Bryson
If one should visit this old Harper & Row publication the recommendation here is simply this:
Have a hanky handy!
As Bryson trips across the USA feeling the country’s pulse, there are times when our author gets a bit snotty!
But hey Little Lulu, hold on to the Kleenex! The majority of your tissues will be wiping Bryson induced tears—tears of snuffling, sobbing, raucous laughter.
At first blow what we have here is a latter- day version of Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie (1960). Like Steinbeck, Bryson (1989) puts in the old dip stick on his trip and checks our levels—people, food, politics, economics, geography, local radio and TV, technology, environment, change!
But sorry no Steinbeckian poodle pup or pickup with cozy camper here. Read More »
Bob’s Book Reviews
A nonprofit website designed to bring readers to reviews/recommendations highlighting older books that Bob believes deserve a good dusting off. Positive book reviews by Bob would range from Bill Bryson’s The Lost Continent “Travels In Small-Town America” (1989); “Eyewitness to Power” Essence of Leadership Nixon to Clinton, by David Gergen (2000); Last Days of Summer, the novel by Steve Kluger; A Confederacy of Dunces, the novel by John Kennedy Toole (1980); Wait Till Next Year—A Memoir, Doris Kearns Goodwin; to Cavett, a 1974 autobiography of Dick Cavett.
Looking for recommendations from notable readers — everyone from bestselling authors Bill Bryson and Nelson DeMille to eight-time Emmy-award winning writer and producer Jonathan Hock? Just click on Notables’ Notes at the top of the page.
The WRAL.COM icon on the home page links readers to WRAL Channel 5’s excellent website, a site millions visit weekly. Page Turners from the Past will be excerpted monthly on the WRAL.COM Entertainment page.
As to the V Foundation for Cancer Research icon, Jim Valvano, the famous NC State basketball coach, was an English major and a voracious reader. Here, with a single click readers of Page Turners from the Past can go to the V Foundation, an entity that has—to date—raised more than $150 million to fight this dreaded disease. Contributions to this most worthy charity are greatly encouraged.
One never knows what books Bob might find fascinating. Again, although he is a fan of many of the blockbusters from the past, his review list, this being a niche gathering, will feature winners that his followers/readers may have missed. Read More »