Day 19 of BookDayMay

The Bookshop (1978) by Penelope Fitzgerald. A soft-spoken entrepreneur opens a bookshop in a small, busy-body town. Florence decides to open a bookshop to enrich her hometown and her own life. At first a success, Florence eventually draws the wrath of the townsfolk, including the influential and well-connected Mrs. Gamart. Green asserts herself and her business, and petty but profound vindictiveness follows. I was a bit puzzled by the wrath of the townsfolk, but I did find this book to be enjoyable.

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Excerpt:

The desire to exhibit somewhere more ambitious than the parish hall accompanied this crisis, and Florence related it to the letters which she also received from ‘local authors.’ The paintings were called ‘Sunset Across the Laze,’ the books were called ‘On Foot Across the Marches’ or ‘Awheel Across East Anglia,’ for what else can be done with flatlands than to cross them? She had no idea, none at all, where she would put the local authors if they came, as they suggested, to sign copies of their books for eager purchasers. Perhaps a table underneath the staircase, if some of the stock could be moved. She vividly imagined their disillusionment, wedged behind the table with books and a pen in front of them, while the hours emptied away and no one came.

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Vulgar language. Fitzgerald started her literary career at age fifty-eight. She has experience working in a bookshop.

. . . . .

Blockade Billy (2010) by Stephen King. An “out-of-nowhere” baseball player displays phenomenal skill and luck. “Blockade Billy,” an emergency last-minute baseball player substitution plucked from Americana, briefly plays with the New Jersey Titans. But “Blockade Billy” isn’t what he seems… The story is framed as the recollections of a retired NJT player as told to King. The story reads very much like a baseball game announcer transcript.

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Excerpt:

But when he looked at me, there was no panic in his eyes. No Fear. Not even nervousness, which I would have said every player feels on Opening Day. No, he looked perfectly cool standing there behind the plate in his Levi’s and light poplin jacket.

“Yuh,” he says, like a man confirming something he was pretty sure of in the first place. “Billy can hit here.’

“Good for him,” I tells him. It’s all I can think of to say.

“Good,” he says back. Then—I swear—he says, “Do you think those guys need help with them hoses?”

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Vulgar language. King wrote of BB: “I love old-school baseball, and I also love the way people who’ve spent a lifetime in the game talk about the game. I tried to combine those things in a story of suspense. People have asked me for years when I was going to write a baseball story. Ask no more; this is it.”

. . . . .

Morality (2009) magazine, and (2010) book by Stephen King. A poor, married couple commit a heinous – yet seemingly surmountable – crime for money. Chad, a struggling writer, and Nora, a frustrated nurse, agree to Rev. George Winston’s offer to commit and videotape a sin in a park for $200,000. The consequences of sin follow. This story was riveting. What on Earth was the $200,000 sin? Read to find out!

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Excerpt:

Nora was sitting on a park bench. When she saw him, she brushed her hair back from the left side of her face. That was the signal: It was on.

Behind her was a playground—swings, a push merry-go-round, teeter-totters, bouncy horses on springs, that sort of thing. At this hour, there were only a few kids playing. The moms were in a group on the far side, talking and laughing, not really paying much attention to the kids.

Nora got up from the bench.

Two hundred thousand dollars, he thought, and raised the camera to his eye.

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Vulgar language. King is a democratic political activist.

. . . . .

Glaciers (2012) by Alexis M. Smith. An unobtrusive library employee recollects her childhood highlights and relates it to her present day-to-day life. Isabel, a book restorer, reminisces about the trials of her childhood. Through tangible symbols rescued from the past, she constructs a sense of meaning in her disjointed adult life. Glaciers is a symbolic story with a dream-like quality. I usually don’t care for those types of books, but this one drew me in. I felt like I knew Isabel, and recognized some of her own life experiences as my own. I read this book during two of the most emotionally wrenching days of my life, and was still transfixed by the story. I attribute this to the skill of the author. Highly recommended!

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Excerpt:

Michael appears. He holds out his hand.

Oh no, she says. My feet are a little sore. Actually, they’re wreaked. I’ve walked the city and back today.

Isabel, it would be a disgrace to that dress, he says, grabbing her hand.

The music is loud and percussion-heavy. She cannot demur. She lets tall Michael lead her around the room, practically carrying her, lifting her off her feet in an improvised waltz. She loses a shoe. Faces turn toward them as Michael ferries her through conversations, interrupts drunken courting. They are sanguine, dreamy, cocktail-soaked faces. More dancers join, anachronistic dance moves erupt. She loses her other shoe. She laughs until her eyes are wet and Michael releases her to the wood planks, barefoot, telling her to watch for splinters, and then turns to a startled young man in a baby blue button-down shirt and sweeps him off his feet. He has dropped Isabel at the green velvet sofa where Leo has settled with a red-headed young man. His red-headed young man, she thinks. She runs her hands along her dress and falls next to Leo with a poof of her skirt.

Catch your breath, he says.

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Vulgar language.

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