Monday, April 13, 2009

Oh Joy!

Lorna Landvik showed up on my doorstep years ago...literally. Someone stuffed a copy of her first book Patty Jane's House of Curl, between my doors. A note, instructed me to "Drop everything and read this." Then the joker added, "I can't wait to hear what you thought." No signature. To this day, the phantom gift giver has not identified him/herself, but since this book comes up in random conversations I am assuming that my feelings about the story have been delivered. I remember enjoying the book, and I remember it making me think. Patty Jane opens a beauty/cultural salon in a small community that is not exactly resistant to her idea, but doesn't totally embrace it either.

Landvik continues to turn up here and there, and a few years back, our book group read Angry Housewives Eating Bon-Bons. That book, with the quirky title, came on the heels of Rebecca Wells' ever so popular Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya sisterhood. I figured Bon-Bons was just a knock-off of a pretty good book, but it turned out to be much better. Now we are reading Landvik's latest paperback release, The View From Mount Joy.

Let me tell you, after my recent fisticuffs with a Jodi Picoult Lifetime Movie script, (oops, I mean a Jodi Picoult novel!) I wasn't all that anxious to pick up another novel riddled with obvious social awareness. But, I settled in Saturday night, and kept turning those pages. Landvik has never disappointed me. She's tricky, and that's one reason I like her. Her titles set you up to think they are going to be light...marginally best meant for rainy afternoons, or to fill that spare 45 minutes you find yourself with when reality TV wears thin..

Not even close! Landvik skillfully builds upon day-to-day occurrences, often told through the voice of a witty narrator, relating the story in a memory-like manner. Those events become the foundation upon which she constructs subtle, issue oriented plots. Her titles and plot scenarios do not announce: HERE COMES A BOOK THAT WILL STUN YOU WITH DETAILS ABOUT A CURRENT, DEBATABLE SOCIAL ISSUE OF WHICH WE MUST ALL BE AWARE AND MUST ALL HAVE AN OPINION...THE OPINION OF THE AUTHOR BEING PREFERRED!

Through multi-dimensional characters, and realistic events, Landvik develops more esoteric themes. The concept of joy is central to the book we are reading. Early on in the novel, a private family issue prompts a mother and son to discuss what it means to have an open heart. The mom offers several, common sense definitions including being glad for others' happiness, allowing people to embrace what they feel is important, and not letting what happens in life make you bitter."

More on this later, but, speaking of bitter......I'm sure you all saw the wonderful article Noelle Rulseh wrote about our store in Sunday's HTR...accompanied by the photo I have titled "The Double Chin Disaster." In case you missed it, I have included it to fulfil your daily laughter requirement. Oh well. That's my chin. Talking with Noelle got me thinking about how things have changed since we opened in 1996. Do you remember (why would you?) any of the best sellers from that year? I'll help you out. 5 Days in Paris by Danielle Steele, The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans, and Miss America by Howard Stern. Also earning high marks that year were books by Clive Cussler, William Bennett, Ellen DeGeneres, Ann Rice, Mary Higgins Clark, Stephen King, James Renfield, and Colin Powell.

*****From the front page of the Heart-A-Rama Gazette*****

We move into the Community House in Two Rivers on Sunday, set up, and gear up. Dress rehearsals are Sunday and Monday, and we open on Thursday. How did this happen so quickly? Was it really in June that we met to pick a theme? Did we really finish writing our musical and tweener skits by the end of October? And now...Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Heart-A-Rama 2009! Unbelievable. I can't wait!

*****We've got a review from Steve on deck, but Blogger is being uppity and won't let him post today. Stay tuned!

This should help cleanse your palette from the scary chin picture. My little friend, Jacob turned two a few weeks back and stopped to share a birthday cupcake with me. Today, I was surprised and happy to receive a funny little picture of Jacob in his birthday mask.