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Sunday, March 28, 2010

The 19th Wife: A Novel by David Ebershoff

I read this book when it came out last summer, and really enjoyed it, thought it was one of the best books I read last year. It's unique in that it combines an antique memoir called Wife No. 19 by Ann Eliza Young, who was pressured into marrying the infamous polygamist Brigham Young. The new fiction novel half of this book features the main character of Jordan, a young gay male who was abandoned on the roadside by his own mother, out of her misguided "duty" to the Mormon church. This practice of abandonment is used in real life, as a way to get rid of eligible boys of dating age, so that these boys don't get in the way of the older men, who are pursuing young girls in the church to add to their harems. I don't want to spoil the book for you, but it's like a triple treat; with a fascinating nonfiction memoir, a well-written modern-day novel, and a murder mystery, all rolled up into one good read! There's a little video on the web site here.

Monday, March 8, 2010


This book is the journey of several characters, but mostly two men. One is white, and living in the exclusive gated community of Arroyo Blanco, at the top of Topanga Canyon in California. The other is a modern-day Job; Candido Rincon, a Mexican immigrant who only wants to work and have a few simple comforts such as a roof, and a refrigerator and running water. This book brilliantly uses metaphor and circumstance to illuminate two juxtaposed worlds. You will be forced to feel and think and you won't come away without opinions, although they may be jumbled. Having lived in California for a few years in my youth, it brought that golden place of contrast into sharp focus for me again. Although Drop City is my favorite T. C. Boyle book, this is the one I consider his most important. With Tortilla Curtain, Boyle has placed himself as a modern-day Steinbeck (in my opinion). Ok, my favorite Latin-American movies to go with this book are: My Family starring Jimmy Smits; The Perez Family starring Marisa Tomei; and Under the Same Moon.