Monday, November 16, 2015

Another Strong Read! - The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin

I just finished my 2nd 3.5/4 out of my last 4 books.  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a very good book.  And to think I only read it because it's the Los Gatos Library Evening Book Club selection for December.  Funny, I've been looking at this book for a while now.  Some of my fellow bloggers have been raving about it.  But I still evidently needed a push.  Our illustrious Los Gatos Library leader, Melissa, provided it for me.  Thanks, Melissa.

I like the blurb on the back page of the book:  "A.J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be.  He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen.  But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over - and see everything anew."

That doesn't really give much away, does it?  Good.  The 1st 1/4 and the last 1/4 of the book are solid.  The middle 1/2 is spectacular.  Don't get me wrong.  There's nothing wrong with the other half.  It just wasn't quite as good as the middle.

Zevin has done some really neat things with this book:

1.  At the beginning of each chapter, A.J. writes a letter to Maya (you'll have to read a little bit to know who Maya is - I refuse to give it away).
2.  There are tons of references to books; a number of which I have read - Bel Canto (thumbs up), The Time Traveler's Wife (thumbs sideways), The Chronicles of Narnia (thumbs way up).
3.  And there are lots of references to authors; a number of whom I have read - Kate Atkinson, Jo Nesbo, Elmore Leonard, and Cormac McCarthy.
4.  The author uses terms that I've come to know through book blogging -TBR (to be read) pile and ARCs (advanced reading copies).
5.  The book is extremely well written.  Here are a few examples:

     a.  Referring to his sister-in-law, A.J. says:  "Pregnant, she is like a very pretty
          Gollum."
     b.  While looking at Maya, A.J. says:  "He feels drunk or at least carbonated."
     c.   In one of his letters to Maya, A.J. says:  "You know everything you need to
           know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite
           book?"

And for the 1st time, I'm going to quote part of an author's acknowledgement page.  I know that's a bit strange, but it's a passage I can actually relate to.  Zevin says:  "On her lunch hours from work, my mom, AeRan Zevin, used to drive me to the bookstore so I could get my favorite authors on their first day of release."  I used to do that every Tuesday at the Barnes & Noble in The Pruneyard in Campbell, CA.  It was just around the corner from my office.  And on many of those Tuesdays an author would be at a big table near the front of store.  That's how I met Jennifer Skully/Jasmine Haynes, Shelley Bates/Adina Sent, Peter Adler/A.R. Silverberry, and Hannah Schwartz/Hannah Jayne, to name just some of them. These and others have become very important to me and are authors that I still see today. (in fact, counting this coming Thursday, all 4 of those named are RBC authors.)



10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY PARTY:  This coming Wednesday is the 10th anniversary of Kathleen's ownership of A Great Good Place for Books, located in the Montclair shopping district in Oakland.  Saturday, November 28, will be an all-day celebration.  If you haven't been to GGP yet, take some time to get out there on the 28th (or some other time).  It's a very cool bookstore.  It's similar to what Gabrielle Zevin makes us visualize with her description of Island Books in The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.

ANOTHER LOCAL AUTHOR GETS A LITERARY NOMINATION:  I just found out today that, like A.R. Silverberry, Ellen Kirshman has been nominated for a USA Best Books award for her latest Dot Meyerhof (police psychologist) novel The Right Wrong Thing.  Congrats, Ellen, and good luck.  We'll be pulling for you. 





4 comments:

  1. My sister read and loved that book but never passed it on to me. I think I need to nudge her a little bit.

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    Replies
    1. You do. It's going right on my Sunday morning recommendation table.

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  2. I adored this too :)

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

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