Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

Just when I needed a break from all the dismal the-world-and-all-the-people-dwelling-there-are-angry-conniving-vindictive-not-to-be-trusted-pieces-of-nastiness books that are so popular now, this book emerged from beneath one of my life piles I so frequently reference.  I guess it had to be the right day for the surreal cover art to speak to me.  Fannie Flagg's work comes to mind from time to time while reading.  You judge, here's the first sentence

My father's wife died.  My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us.

Doesn't that remind you a littleof Idgie's voice in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Which reminds me, next time I need a light but not fluffy fix, I could catch up with Fannie Flagg. Anyway....half sisters, one adventurous and driven, the other smart and inventive take center stage in Bloom's novel.  The girls, who meet for the first time after the death of  Iris's mother, wife of their shared father, eventually find a common bond brought on by the realization that neither one of them has a decent parent to rely on.  (Yes, I know I ended that sentence with a preposition, but I do believe those guidelines are loosening up).  Iris, the hopeful star and her sidekick, Eva, journey across 1940's America in search of fame and fortune.  They leave Ohio and travel to Hollywood where the glitz and glamour betray them.  In a Thelma and Louise like move, they  steal a car and head to Long Island.

Iris and Eva stumble across the landscape in search of the next bigger, better deal.  What they find instead is scandal, betrayal and war.  If this all sounds rather grim, well, it isn't.  Memorable characters save the day, and despite the desperate circumstances, the sisters' escapades are as funny as they are tragic.

I find the style problematic at times.  Eva narrates and so her recollection of conversations is built into her narrative, rather than being written as dialogue.  Reminds me a bit of How Stella got Her Groove Back. Once Stella found her boy-toy distraction, the book shifts into high gear.  Using very little punctuation, the plot frantically tumbles and rushes breathlessly toward the predictable, but satisfying conclusion.  If you're beginning your Wisconsin winter Sunday afternoon reading stack, Stella is a fast and fun escape.

Food for thought and lessons learned:  My life is so simple since I left teaching, but I continue to make discoveries everyday.  Today I learned that if you eat garlicky leftovers for lunch at work, no amount to York Peppermint Patties can counteract the damage.  I'll try coffee next.  Or will that make it worse?

 Our friend Steve Head will travel from Nebraska for a Meet and Greet at LaDeDa on Thursday, November 13 from 6-8.  More info to come shortly.