Way Station by Clifford Simak
Enoch Wallace lives quietly on a farm in southwest Wisconsin. Except for serving in the Civil War, Enoch has lived in Wisconsin for all of his 140 years. Enoch, who looks 30, is given privacy by his neighbors, and his only regular contact is with the mailman. Well, his only human contact. Enoch runs a way station for interstellar travelers. He gets a message when to expect a visitor and what special requirements they have. Travel is by a sort of transporter. Enoch has regular visitors who have become friends, and this contact, along with his books and magazines make for a pretty satisfactory life. He also interacts with two 19th century holographic humans. The farmhouse has been remade to look old but is is impenetrable and basically indestructible. Enoch only ages when he leaves the farm house to take a daily walk around the property. One day a neighbor, a mute girl, needs his help, and his privacy is gone. Also, as is common in science fiction, the fate of the earth (and Enoch’s way station) is uncertain. A short, absorbing novel with a very likeable narrator; well worth reading. This novel was published in 1963, and won the Hugo Award in 1964.
Hotel by Arthur Hailey
Published in 1965, this is a thriller about five eventful days at the St. Gregory Hotel in New Orleans. Peter McDermott, the assistant general manager, typically spends much of his time dealing with one crisis after another, as he’s responsible for keeping the hotel running smoothly, but can’t make major changes. Christine Francis, assistant to hotel owner Warren Trent, is a bright spot in his day, as is a distressed guest, Martha Preyscott. During the week, Peter deals with problems in the kitchen, an ill guest housed in the hotel’s worst room, a convention of dentists threatening to leave, a thief, and the looming threat of the hotel being sold. Tycoon Curtis O’Keefe is visiting with his sweet girlfriend Dodo, and is deciding if the St. Gregory will become part of his bland, efficient, and impersonal chain of hotels. The city is briefly but vividly described, with most of the focus on a back stage view of the hotel, from the kitchens to the elevators to the incinerator room, offices, and parking garage. A hotel staff member is blackmailing guests who may be connected to a hit and run, and Peter can only how he’d like to run the hotel. An elevator accident, hinted at early in the book, brings the novel to a dramatic close. While somewhat dated, this is still a plot-driven page turner with just enough background on the minor characters to give them appeal without slowing the intensifying pace.
On May 16 at 10 a.m., the Tuesday Morning Book Group will discuss Everyone Brave is Forgiven, by Chris Cleave. This is a novel about World War II, set mostly in London and Malta, and was inspired by the experiences of the author’s grandfather and both grandmother’s during the war. Here is my earlier review.
The Tuesday Evening Book Group will meet at 7 p.m. on May 23 to discuss Odds Against, by Dick Francis. Published in 1965, this is a 50th anniversary program. This is the first mystery featuring Sid Halley, British steeplechase jockey turned private detective. Here is my review.
The Crime Readers will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 18, to discuss The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, featuring two women who work as typists for the NYPD in the 1920s. Crime Readers are co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library. Optional dinner is at 6 p.m.
Copies of these books are available at the Adult & Teen Services Reference Desk.
The Woodridge Public Library is celebrating its 50th birthday today, with a big party, cake and music. We’re having special events all year, and I’m leading at least two book discussions of titles popular in 1967, along with creating book displays. For March, many of these books were on display:
Mainstream Fiction Popular in 1967
Baldwin, James. Go Tell It On the Mountain
Bellow, Saul. Herzog
Burgess, Anthony. Clockwork Orange
Cadell, Elizabeth. Canary Yellow
Clavell, James. Tai-Pan
Du Maurier, Daphne. Flight of the Falcon
Faulkner, William. The Reivers
Fleming, Ian. You Only Live Twice
Gordon, Noah. The Rabbi
Goudge, Elizabeth. The Scent of Water
Grass, Gunter. The Tin Drum
Greene, Graham. The Comedians
Hailey, Arthur. The Hotel
Heller, Joseph. Catch-22
Holt, Victoria. Mistress of Mellyn
Kaufman, Bel. Up the Down Staircase
Kerouac, Jack. On the Road
Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Le Carré, John. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird
Levin, Ira. Rosemary’s Baby
Lofts, Norah. The House at Old Vine
MacInnes, Helen. The Double Image
MacLean, Alistair. Where Eagles Dare
Malamud, Bernard. The Fixer
Michener, James. The Source
Oates, Joyce Carol. The Garden of Earthly Delights
O’Connor, Edwin. All in the Family
Porter, Katherine. Ship of Fools
Potok, Chaim. The Chosen
Renault, Mary. The Mask of Apollo
Seton, Anya. Avalon
Smith, Betty. Joy in the Morning
Stegner, Wallace. All the Little Live Things
Steinbeck, John. The Winter of Our Discontent
Stewart, Mary. The Gabriel Hounds
Styron, William. Confessions of Nat Turner
Susann, Jacqueline. Valley of the Dolls
Updike, Leon. Topaz
Vidal, Gore. Washington, D.C.
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. Cat’s Cradle
Wilder, Thornton. The Eighth Day
Wouk, Herman. Don’t Stop the Carnival
The Beast Master and Lord of Thunder by Andre Norton
Andre Norton wrote over 130 science fiction and fantasy novels during a 70 year writing career. Born Alice Mary Norton in 1912, she started writing adventure stories for boys, and used the pen names Andrew North and Andre Norton, later changing her name to Andre. Her series include Witch World, Solar Queen, Forerunners, Time Traders, and Beast Master. The Beast Master was published in 1959, and a sequel, Lord of Thunder, was published in 1962. Together, they’ve been reprinted as Beast Master’s Planet, and both are set on the planet Arzor, and feature Beast Master Hosteen Storm, a Navajo from Terra. Terra has been destroyed by the alien Xik, and Storm is seeking both a new home and revenge. Storm can communicate telepathically with his animals, an African black eagle, a large feline named Surra, two meercats, and his new horse, Rain. He finds work as a herder on largely rural Arzor, while looking for land to settle on. Storm learns the sign language of the native Norbies, and befriends young Gorgol. They discover sealed caves, some of which have wondrous gardens, while others have machines of unknown purpose. The Xik are still a problem, and Storm tries desperately to prevent a war between the Norbies and the human settlers. Fast-paced, with appealing characters, a compelling story and plenty of adventure, these connected books are quick, enjoyable reads. I have read several other books by Andre Norton in the past, but this series was new to me. The series was continued in 2002 – 2006, in collaboration with Lyn McConchie, who wrote three more books based on outlines by Norton. These books are Beast Master’s Ark, Beast Master’s Circus, and Beast Master’s Quest. I expect to read more of Andre Norton’s books in the near future.
On April 18 at 10 a.m., the Tuesday Morning Book Group will discuss Airs Above the Ground, by Mary Stewart. Published in 1965, this This is a 50th anniversary program. Young English veterinarian Vanessa March travels to Austria and gets mixed up in a mystery involving a traveling circus and Lipizzaner stallions. Here is my earlier review.
The Tuesday Evening Book Group will meet at 7 p.m. on April 25 to discuss The Translation of Love, by Lynne Katsukake, a first novel set in Tokyo in 1947. Fumi Tanaka asks her classmate Aya Shimamura, who spent the war at an internment camp in Canada, for help in finding her sister. My review is here.
The Crime Readers will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 20 to discuss The Tiger in the Smoke, by Margery Allingham. This British mystery, featuring amateur sleuth Albert Campion, is set in London and was published in 1952. Crime Readers are co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library. Optional dinner is at 6 p.m.
Copies of these books are available at the Adult & Teen Services Reference Desk.
I’m in the middle of so many books that I haven’t reviewed any for a while. Spring is usually peak time for new books to be published, but there are several winter gems here, along with some older titles. Enjoy!
What I’m Reading Now:
Clement, Blaize & John. The Cat Sitter and the Canary.
A cozy mystery set on Siesta Key, on Florida’s gulf coast.
Hambly, Barbara. Patriot Hearts: A Novel of the Founding Mothers.
Kline, Cristina Baker. A Piece of the World.
I was familiar with some of American artist Andrew Wyeth’s work, but not Christina’s World, which is the inspiration for this historical novel set in Maine. Kline is the author of The Orphan Train.
Mack, Doug. The Not-Quite States of America: Dispatches from the Territories and Other Far-Flung Outposts of the USA. From the U.S. Virgin Islands to American Samoa, the author explores our territories. Fans of Ken Jennings’ Maphead or Bill Bryson’s humorous travelogues may enjoy.
Norton, Andre. Lord of Thunder, sequel to The Beast Master. A classic science fiction writer I’m reading for another 50th anniversary post. A Navajo who can communicate with animals is caught up in adventure and intrigue on another planet.
Ryan, Jennifer. The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir.
Historical novel set in WWII England, on the home front. Narrated by several characters, including a young teenager, a mother who’s just sent her only son off to war, a conniving midwife, a seductive young woman, a choir director, and others.
Stewart, Mary. The Ivy Tree.
Another book I’m reading for a 50th anniversary post; currently getting neglected because of all these other excellent books.
Flanders, Judith. A Cast of Vultures. The third mystery novel featuring a book editor as amateur sleuth.
Gaiman, Neil. Norse Mythology. The award-winning dark fantasy author has fun retelling Norse myths.
Saunders, George. Lincoln in the Bardo. A grief-stricken Abraham Lincoln visits his son’s grave; ghosts are present.