Someone by Alice McDermott

SomeoneSomeone by Alice McDermott

Alice McDermott, a long time chronicler of the Irish American experience, has written the moving story of Marie Commeford, a short sighted girl from Brooklyn.

Written in the first person, Marie’s wry and clear eyed observations, from her stoop in Brooklyn to the confines of the nursing home in Long Island unfold in a series of loosely connected, non-chronological vignettes of an ordinary but unforgettable life.

WHAT OTHER REVIEWERS THINK

The New York Times: “Someone is a wonderfully modest title for such a fine-tuned, beautiful book filled with so much universal experience, such haunting imagery, such urgent matters of life and death.”

WHO WROTE IT

Alice McDermott is the author of six previous novels, including Charming Billy, winner of the 1998 National Book Award and At Weddings and Wakes, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar

Deep Down DarkDeep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set them Free by Hector Tobar

If you were alive in August 2010, you heard about the collapse of the San Jose Mine in Chile which trapped thirty-three miners for sixty-nine days. The above ground rescue efforts were exhaustively covered by the media, but what actually happened thousands of feet below ground during that time?

With exclusive access to the survivors,  Hector Tobar tells the miners’ story of those dark sixty-nine days.

I am a bit claustrophobic so I was reluctant to read a book about being buried alive by a 770,000 ton block of stone, but how these ordinary men  triumph over the daunting physical challenges (starvation, full body funguses, heat) and the equally harsh mental challenges is riveting and inspiring.

Tobar’s prose is more serviceable than lyrical, but the story doesn’t need much embellishment.

WHAT OTHER REVIEWERS THINK

Ann Patchett: “I more-than-love Deep Down Dark. Maybe it’s the story, which somehow manages to be a gut wrenching cliffhanger even though we know exactly how it’s going to end…Maybe it’s the willingness to take on all the big issues-the value of a human life, the tests of character, the persistent hopes for God…  Make sure you’re in a comfortable place when you start reading because it’s going to be very hard to stop.”

WHO WROTE IT?

Hector Tobar is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a novelist who was collectively selected by the miners to tell their story.

COMING TO THE BIG SCREEN?

A movie of Deep Down Dark is in the works staring Antonio Banderas and Juliette Binoche. Hmm!

Nashville Home Sales November

Christmas Wreath on GateNASHVILLE HOME SALES NOVEMBER

The number of closings: UP in Davidson County/ DOWN in Williamson County.

The average sales price:  UP in Davidson County/DOWN in Williamson County.

Single Family Home Sales Davidson County November 2014

In Davidson County, there were 665 home closings reported for the month of November. This figure represents an increase from the 637 closings reported for the same period last year.

The average sales price increased to $268,501 from $253,801 in November 2013.

Single Family Home Sales Williamson County November 2014

In Williamson County, there were 358 home closings reported for the month of November versus 292 closings reported for the same period last year.

The average sales price of $447,169 is 3.4% lower than last year.

Condominium Sales Davidson County November 2014

In Davidson County, there were 175 condo closings reported for the month of November versus 143 closings reported for the same period last year.

The average sales price increased this month to $199,185 from $193,649 in November of 2013.

ADDITIONAL DATA

If you’d like more information about single family home sales in Davidson County, Area Two (I-65 to Charlotte Pike), Williamson County, or condominium sales in Davidson County, I’m happy to email you a comprehensive report.

I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg

I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg

I Still Dream About YouI enjoyed Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, both the novel and the movie, but I find most of Fannie Flagg’s books too Hee Haw! But in a moment of weakness, I picked up I Still Dream About You (2010). The ending is a bit too pat, but along the way this novel is a lot of fun.

I especially appreciated the list of the advantages of old age compiled by the lead character, former Miss Alabama Maggie Fortenberry:

 

  •  You are still alive!
  • Senior discounts up the kazoo
  • No more high heels
  • You don’t have to be nice
  • You can say what you think
  • You still don’t have to watch the news
  • You can watch Turner Classic movies all night
  • You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to
  • You are still alive!!

 

I Still Dream About You is a charming  beach/airplane novel!

The Fatal Weakness by George Kelly

The Fatal Weakness by George Kelly

The Fatal Weakenss Kristin Griffith Photo by Richard TermineIn keeping with their mission of “bringing worthy but neglected plays back to the stage,” the not-for-profit Mint Theater Company presents The Fatal Weakness by Pulitzer Prize-winner George Kelly (uncle of Grace.)

When initially performed in 1946, the play received a tepid response in part because as The New York Times noted at the time, The Fatal Weakness was neither a “capricious comedy [nor a] psychological drama.”

The current production suffers from the same duality (in addition to being twenty  minutes too long.) But this story of a married suburban woman faced with her husband’s infidelity is fine traditional theater.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah“Dear Non-American Black, when you make the choice to come to America, you become black. Stop arguing. Stop saying I’m Jamaican or I’m Ghanaian. America doesn’t care.”

The heroine of Americanah, Nigerian immigrant Ifemelu,  makes this and other pointed observations in her  popular, provocative blog Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black. Smart, accomplished Ifemelu has a fellowship from Princeton, a professor boyfriend, and is an in demand speaker.

But her success has not come without difficulty, and Ifemelu wears it uneasily.  After leaving her boyfriend and family in Nigeria, her first years in the USA were hard and strange.

Her hometown boyfriend, Obinze, who immigrated to London, experiences similar challenges as an undocumented alien.

A harsh portrayal of the immigrant experience, an engrossing love story, and a shrewd examination of race relations in the twenty-first century, Americanah is an ambitious but highly readable novel.

What Other Reviewers Think

NPR: “So smart about so many subjects that to call it a novel about being black …doesn’t even begin to convey its luxurious heft and scope…Capacious, absorbing and original.”

Who wrote it?

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the author of Half of a Yellow Sun, which won the Orange Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist.

Coming to the big screen?

Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company, which produced 12 Years a Slave, has acquired the movie rights to Americanah. Lupita Nyong’o  will star.

Is this a good book club selection?

Yes! A thought provoking discussion was held at the NCN Book Club meeting.

Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar

Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar

Disgraced 4 characters at the dinner tableAt the opposite end of the theater going spectrum from It’s Only a Play is Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced, winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Price. This celebrity free, but certainly not talent free performance is riveting.  Except for a collective gasp at a particularly scathing piece of dialogue, for ninety minutes (no intermission) the audience is silent —completely engrossed in the meltdown on stage.

The setting sounds cliché—two charming and successful couples gather for dinner at home. Everyone is overserved, everyone overshares, and then everyone’s life is overturned.

But trust me there is nothing formulaic about Disgraced or the performances.

A must see!

The Forest Unseen by David George Haskell

The Forest Unseen by David George Haskell

The Forest UnseenLast month I heard author and professor of biology at the University of the South, David George Haskell, speak on the subject of his latest book, The Forest Unseen.   I have zero interest in biology, but if I had a teacher like Professor Haskell, I’d be studying salamanders today!

Some of you may have read about Haskell in The New York Times last year or perhaps you follow his popular blog, Ramble.  In any event, it is not often that I recommend a science book (like never!), but The Forest Unseen is Zen science – educational and enlightening.

The premise is simple– for a year Haskell studied one square-meter of old-growth Tennessee forest (about the size of a dining room table) and wrote about what he experienced.

The resulting series of lush essays in The Forest Unseen make perfect bite size reading.

It’s Only a Play by Terrence McNally

It's Only a play Nathan LaneIt’s Only a Play by Terrence McNally

The big play in NYC this Fall is It’s Only A Play—heavy on celebrity casting–  F. Murray Abraham, Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, Rupert Grint, Nathan Lane and Megan Mullally– and light on dramatic merits.

Some reviewers were less than enthusiastic, but it appears that theatergoers didn’t listen as the performance I attended was sold out.

SETTING: It’s the opening night party for Peter Austin’s (Matthew Broderick) new play and he, his best friend (Nathan Lane), the leading lady attired in a court-ordered ankle monitor (Stockard Channing), the boy wonder director (Rupert Grint), grumpy critic (F. Murray Abraham), and just-off-the-bus actor /coat check boy (Micah Stock) are anxiously awaiting the reviews from the producer’s (Megan Mullally) sumptuous townhouse.

PLOT: see Setting.

Nathan Lane’s ten minute monologue in the opening scene is hilarious.  Stockard Channing is also wonderful as a newly paroled, over-the-hill actress. Matthew Broderick is a deep disappointment, but the rest of the cast is so good you (almost) don’t care.

Essentially a series of one liners, It’s Only a Play resembles Letterman’s Top Ten List more than a theatrical performance. But with pitch perfect timing, this cast of pros turns this into a memorable evening and a howling success, which is more than can be said (spoiler alert!) for poor Peter’s play.

NOTE: Nathan Lane is leaving the production in January to be replaced by Martin Short.

Nashville Home Sales October

Nashville Home Sales October

Doorway from the Samuel Colton House, Long Meadow, MA 1754.

Doorway from the Samuel Colton House, Long Meadow, MA 1754.

In Davidson County, there were 810 home sales reported for the month of October. This figure is up almost 25% percent from the 650 closings reported for the same period last year.

Year-to-date closings for the county have increased 7%.

The average home sales price was $266,323.

No such similar gains exist in Williamson County. .

The number of monthly closings was 355, down from 366 last October. Year-to-date, there were 3891 home sales. This represents a slight increase of less than 2% from the same period last year.

The average sales price in the county was $455,929

ECW at the Colton Door, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston June 2011

ECW at the Colton Door June 2011, Museum of Fine Arts Boston

 

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