Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More Book Reviews

I have two rare ones for you this week, friends.

First, The Returning, by Jean Sorrell, from Inkwater Press at www.inkwaterpress.com, is a quietly intense psychological thriller and subtly revelatory historical novel.

Set in 1951 in Kansas city, it centers around 11-year-old Sara Johnson, whose father went missing in action on Iwo Jima. When a new minister comes to her church, a man who looks strikingly like her lost father and who was also at Iwo Jima, Sara begins to wonder about the theory of soul transference -- a concept certainly not welcome in her church. Sara's investigations spread ripples through her family, church and city, ripples reaching a climax during the worst flood of the century and a following fire.

The writing, in a lean spare style reminiscent of Hemingway, subtly changes voice to reveal the personalities of the various characters as the point-of-view shifts through them. The narrative flows as smoothly as the Missouri River, illuminating historical detail briefly but always with telling effect. Since this is the author's first novel, it reveals an impressive talent.

Second, When Sword Met Bow, by Aya Katz, from www.well.com/user/amnfn, is another delightful children's book based on tales told to the author's own daughter.

Profusely illustrated with color photographs, this book is clearly not fiction but a charming memoir that happens to read like a fable. The tale is one that countless mothers would find familiar; Mother brings home a new baby, and her older child has to adjust. The older, a toddler, grumbles at how helpless and stinky the new baby is, and of course she was never like that. In this case, Mother was well prepared -- with a photo album, showing pictures of the little daughter from her very first days. In time the daughter comes to love the new baby, and vice-versa. The tale is not just a sweet fable of love and acceptance; it's also a useful guidebook for new parents.

It's quite irrelevant that the new baby is, in fact, a chimpanzee.

The author is part of a major science project on primate intelligence, and agreed to raise a baby chimpanzee in a human household -- complete with an older sister -- as part of the ongoing experiment. Well, what would you expect from a single mother who writes books in her spare time and names her children Sword and Bow? I'm eagerly awaiting the next work from this remarkable author.

--Leslie <;)))>< Fish


Anonymous said...

I certainly hope that the woman raising the chimpanzee baby is ready to deal with the fact that a chimpanzee is emphatically NOT a human being. Most if not all people who've tried keeping chimps as pets end up having to give them to zoos or medical research facilities; they're extremely strong, very intelligent and self-willed, and they ain't like us!

There was a tragic case some time ago where a "pet" chimpanzee that had been with its owners all its life ripped a woman's face off for no apparent reason. While I like the great apes, I would never, never, never want one in my home.

Aya Katz said...

Leslie, thanks so much for the wonderful review! Today is Bow's birthday: he is nine years old. Time flies. Your review was a nice surprise for both of us!

Ravenclaw-Eric, if you are interested in what life is like with Bow on a day to day basis, you can check out my blog: "Notes from the Pens." There is no pretense that Bow isn't a chimpanzee, nor do we fail to take safety precautions to protect outsiders. The important thing to understand is that chimpanzees are very protective of family, but do not regard strangers in the same way.

I agree that you, personally, would be safer without a chimpanzee in your home. It's an enormous commitment of time and resources, and it is not for everybody.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering, Aya. I could say that having grown up with the little brother I had, a chimpanzee would be redundant...but that would be wrong of me, wouldn't it? *grin*

Although I am fond of animals, I don't even think it'd be a good idea for me to have so much as a cat. As absent-minded as I can be, and as much as I'm away from home, it wouldn't be fair to the animal.

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