Tag Archives: Alison Lurie

Mostly local

Key West writers are in the news, folks. First of all, there’s James Gleick, the esteemed science writer who has recently published his book about information called The Information. And so far it’s getting boffo reviews, in Big Important Publications like The New York Times and the New York Review of Books and coverage on NPR’s All Things Considered. I only hope future generations of library and information science students get to read this book instead of the … stuff I’m having to read for my current course. But the less side about that on a public forum the better. Another interesting read is Gleick’s blog, Bits in the Ether. I’m told he’ll be doing a reading and signing at Voltaire Books some time this month; I’ll update here when I learn more.

The other item of local interest which I cannot resist posting is this video of our own Meg Cabot, promoting her forthcoming young adult novel Abandon, a modern take on the myth of Hades and Persephone. I like this because it’s shot in one of my favorite places in our tiny town, the Cemetery — which, by the way, is now open to access at the Frances Street gate again. Thank you, City Commission!

Finally, on the subject of local authors, please keep in mind that this week is the final week of One Island One Book, which will wrap up on Thursday morning with the library’s Cafe Con Libros program — featuring a talk by Alison Lurie herself about her novel set in Key West, The Last Resort.

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Filed under book groups, fiction, Key West Library, nonfiction, recommended reading, YA

One Island One Book, Volume 2

Last year at the Key West Library we held our first One Island One Book program — and if I do say so, as a member of the staff, it was a great success. We chose Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not, a novel set in Key West in the 1930s, and had lots of rousing discussions, presentations, a screening of the film (even though its plot bore almost no resemblance to that of the novel) and, as a capper, the designation of the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum in Key West as a National Literary Landmark.

This year, we’ve decided to do it all over again — with a different book, of course. We’ve chosen another novel set in Key West, this one more contemporary and with an author who is still alive, still in Key West — and who will appear at the Library for our Cafe Con Libros group to discuss the novel as the progam’s finale. Our choice is The Last Resort by Alison Lurie.

Lurie is a longtime Key Wester and this is actually her second novel set here — the first was The Truth About Lorin Jones and when people ask me for a Key West novel, that’s always the first one I recommend. The Last Resort is more recent and tells the story of a woman married to a much older, successful man who has basically made serving him her life’s work. Until he gets depressed and withdrawn one winter, and she suggests they repair to Key West and … well, you should read the book to find out what happens.

To find out more about Lurie, check her website — which, I was extremely touched to see, suggests finding her books at your local library, even before it suggests purchase, which is an extremely generous and civic-minded gesture on the part of a writer.

We have lots of copies of The Last Resort in the Library’s collection — as of this writing most if not all are checked out but it’s a quick read so if you request a copy, you shouldn’t have to wait long. I have it on good authority, too, that they have a good supply of them at a good price at Key West Island Books, so that’s another option.

The program starts March 9 with a discussion of the book by Cynthia Crossen, who writes the Dear Book Lover column for the Wall Street Journal, lives in Key West and is vice president of our own Friends of the Library. We are blessed indeed with our literary community on this little island. For more information on events, keep an eye on the Library website’s Key West page or check the One Island One Book blog. You do not need to have a Monroe County Library card to attend events at the Library.

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Filed under book groups, fiction, Key West, Key West Library, recommended reading

Too close for comfort

I have an issue with books that touch on subjects close to me, fiction or nonfiction.

Maybe it’s two issues:

1) They get it wrong, which is irritating on all kinds of levels — it’s kind of like when some out-of-town journalist comes in and writes about your place and those little details that aren’t quite right drive you nuts.

Or, 2) They get it right, which is even more uncomfortable and reminds me of my own weaknesses, or things I should have done, or places and people I miss. For these reasons I haven’t been able to bring myself to read The Last Resort, Alison Lurie’s novel set in Key West. That one will be resolved soon; the novel is the next choice for the library’s One Island, One Book program so I will read it, dammit. I also have not read Home Town by Tracy Kidder, which is about Northampton, Massachusetts. Northampton is not, strictly speaking, my hometown although I was born there, but I grew up close by, knew it my whole life and worked there as a newspaper reporter one summer. I had my feet measured at Ted’s Boot Shop. I remember when the main street had a hardware store, not a bunch of ice cream shops and trendy boutiques. I know that if you’re really from there and not some Smithie/yuppie transplant you call it Hamp, not Noho. Kidder has lived in the region for many years and is a wonderful reporter and writer; there’s no reason to fear he’s going to get it wrong. I’m more afraid with this one that it will make me question my choice to live my adult life so far from home. This is not the most rational of approaches.

So a couple weeks ago when I started reading reviews of a novel called One Day by David Nicholls I felt a combination of anticipation and dread. Anticipation because this novel was about two people almost exactly my age (they graduate from college in 1988; I graduated in 1989), following their lives connecting and not connecting for the next 20 years. It had a strong endorsement from Nick Hornby, so I knew it was likely to be a highly readable, probably funny novel. But I also knew that even though it is British it might strike uncomfortably close to home.

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Filed under fiction, Key West, Key West Library, recommended reading