Sunday, December 10, 2006

103. 50+ Igniting a Revolution to Reinvent America, Bill Novelli. Non-Fiction, 11-26, pp. 239
104. The Echo Maker, Richard Powers. Fiction, 12-1, pp. 451
105. Nature Girl, Carl Hiaasen. Fiction, 12-3, pp. 306
106. Fear of the Dark, Walter Mosley. Mystery, 12-8, pp. 308

Four books to post today. Yes, I’m behind. I apologize, but when you’re as busy as I’ve been, and have to choose between writing or reading, reading wins.

So, enough with the excuses. Let’s go to the books.

Bill Novelli is my boss. He’s also the author of 50+ Igniting a Revolution to Reinvent America. The book provides insight into who we are at AARP, especially for those people who think we’re only about discounts for the elderly or a magazine. Health care reform, long-term care, livable communities and older workers are among the major issues we’re wrestling with.

Novelli sets forth both our body work and his vision for the future. Take a look – it’s your future too.

The Echo Maker by Richard Powers won the National Book Award for fiction. It’s well earned. Powers’ novel won’t make my shortlist of the best books of ’06, but its close. Set in Kearney, Nebraska, this is an intriguing tale of a slaughterhouse worker who suffers brain damage in a late-night traffic accident. The worker doesn’t recognize his sister, his dog or his mobile home. The woman claiming to be his sister looks remarkably like his sister, knows things only his sister would know, but she’s not his sister. Instead, he suspects some kind of government cover.

There isn’t, of course. One of the scarier aspects of brain damage is that the brain-damaged person doesn’t recognize his own impairments. Powers tells the story of the worker, his sister and a neurologist-turned-author who is drawn to the siblings’ story.

The Echo Maker almost works. It is an intriguing exploration of who we are and how fragile our identities are – held together by an amazingly adaptable, but fragile neural network – but Powers’ writing can be opaque, which makes the reader feel brain damaged too.

Nature Girl is not Carl Hiaasen’s best work. You may want to take a pass.

Walter Mosley’s Fear of the Dark is passable. It’s an enjoyable read, but doesn’t break new ground.

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