Friday, March 30, 2007

Book Review: The Children's Blizzard

March 30, 2007

It is impossible for those of us who live in mild regions to imagine a storm like the blizzard of 1888, as described by David Laskin in this book. After 5 years in Iowa and 18 in upstate New York, I still can't grasp the ferocity of weather that attacked the Dakotas and other prairie regions in this famous blizzard. Laura Ingalls Wilder actually does a much better job of describing life with constant blizzards in The Long Winter. Laskin spends too much time for my taste on technical weather facts and the ins-and-outs of the Signal Corps. The book is titled The Children's Blizzard because of the hundred or so children who were lost in the blizzard on their way home from school. I'd rather have read more about the families and less about "the vagaries of forecasting." Still, this is an interesting book, which potentially could have been a fascinating book (and might be for someone who is interested in the technical parts of weather).

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Book Review: New Stories from the South, 2006

March 20, 2007

I used to be a voracious reader of short stories. Now I generally only consume this genre with the annual New Stories from the South collection, which Randy present to me on my birthday each year. (At this point, Dr. H. is singing "Tradition" from Fiddler on the Roof in his head--please don't sing out loud in your office, honey!) I don't know why I don't seek out short story collections more often. The short story is an amazing art form and exceedingly difficult to produce well. When I was in graduate school, I had a short-story workshop for one semester with the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley. It was pure torture. She was probably laughing her head off at my feeble attempts to incorporate all the elements of a short story into my pathetic slices of life. (More likely, she was scoffing in a dismissive sort of way.) I sure am glad I only had to take that for one semester! But anyway, I am always determined to read more short stories after finishing this annual collection. It's good for my brain to venture outside of my favored novels every now and then!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Book Review: Queen of Sheba

March 10, 2007

This is the final book in Roberta Kells Dorr's trilogy about the house of David. As I've said in my other two reviews, Dorr does an excellent job of filling out historical and archaeological research. This is the story of the Queen of Sheba's visit to King Solomon, which takes about a paragraph in the Old Testament. I enjoyed this trilogy very much (although I'm ready to move onto something else now)!