Sunday, June 5, 2016

More From Chicago and Life Lessons from Louise Erdrich

It's been almost a month since my friend Maryellen and I made sure we'd be first in line for a table at the  Adult Librarians' Author Lunch sponsored by Arriving on the dot of noon we found that we could not outsmart those greedy librarians who had showed up early for the freebies - books by all the authors who were speaking, not to mention the boxed lunch!

Though I had to leave without a copy, the title I'm most anticipating this summer is Jodi Picoult's "Small Great Things." Her talk with us was humorous, inspiring, and important. Her book, one she said she's been wanting to write for years but didn't have the courage or the wisdom to tackle, is about race.

"Oh no, not again," you may be saying, but not so fast. I expect this novel to be on every book group's radar for discussion this year. I say this because of the way Picoult went about researching the topic. She admits to being a middle-class white woman from a happy, stable childhood, who had all the white privilege afforded to so many of us. What could she possible have to say about what if feels like to be a black woman?

Particularly one like her main character Ruth, a nurse on a maternity ward who's been told that she may not touch or otherwise care for the newborn of a white supremacist couple. What happens if the baby is in distress and Ruth is the only one on duty? Will she act as her medical oath says she must or walk away? Repercussions?

I'll say no more. If you'd like to hear more from Picoult, she was interviewed at the PBS stage at Book Expo here:

I did pick up a copy of Fredrik Backman's "Britt Marie Was Here." Backman made a name for himself with a surprise hit last year, "A Man Called Ove." Now he's taking on the female of the species with a curmudgeonly, OCD -inflicted, middle-aged woman who leaves her unfaithful husband to make her way in a world that is not in the least organized to her liking. Called funny, observant, and humane, the Swedish Backman overcame what is obviously a deep aversion to public speaking in order to follow in Jodi Picoult shoes. He kept the audience laughing with his sweet, self-deprecating humor.

This panel was way too large, brimming with outsize personalities, to be contained within the short time frame. I felt embarrassed for Noah Hawley, of TV's "Fargo" fame, who had the unfortunate position of last speaker of the day. He only had a few minutes as we were all rising from our seats to rush off the next presentation. I doubt that it will matter though since his new novel, "Before the Fall," was being advertised everywhere. Even our nametags were used as pitches for this follow up to "The Good Father," a heartbreaking study of a family trying to come to grips with the deadly action of their lost son. Janet Maslin of the New York Times called Hawley's latest, "one of the Year's best suspense novels." Place your holds now! Maryellen, you're going to send me yours, right?


Paul Woodside said...

I just loved it!

Sallyb said...

Sweet! The Maryland system only has 6 copies. Why can't I stop trying to change how libraries do business?

Jessica said...

I'm currently reading an e-galley of "Small Great Things" by Picoult - I got sucked in right away, surprising given the subject matter. Wish I could have heard her speak.