paul's corner

rss RSS

About Paul

Unique selections of books from our book buyer Paul Ingram. He compiles great lists of books on varying topics.

If you have any requests for recommendations, send Paul an email at paul@prairielights.com

  • Paul's Book Club - February 22nd at Prairie Lights

    Peace Like A River Leif Enger

    We're reading Peace Like A River by Leif Enger. Join Paul and fellow booklovers for a discussion on Wednesday, February 22, 2017. 7:00 pm at Prairie Lights.

    Young Reuben Land has little doubt that miracles happen all around us, suspecting that his own father is touched by God. When his older brother flees a controversial murder charge, Reuben, along with his older sister and father, set off on a journey that will take them to the Badlands and through a landscape more extraordinary than they could have anticipated. Enger's novel is at once a heroic quest and a haunting meditation on the possibility of magic in the everyday world.

    High School Janitor, Jeremiah Land, is fired by the cruel Superintendent in front of his son Rueben.  Like the Saint that he is he performs a healing.

    "Most boys, I am guessing, have never watched outright as their father was stripped of their livelihood, and I don't want to pound it too hard, but the cruelty of that moment still impresses me.  I left my milling classmates and headed for Dad, where he stood in rapt surprise facing Holden. I hadn't in mind to say anything and indeed I didn't; for as I approached Dad lifted his hand, sudden as a windshift, touched Holden's face and pulled away.  It was the oddest little slap you ever saw.  Holden quailed back a step, hunching defensively, but Dad turned and walked off; and the superintendent stood with his fingers strangely awonder over his chin, cheeks, and forehead.  Then I saw that his bedeviled complexion--that face set always at a rolling boil--had changed.  I saw instead skin of a healthy tan, a hale blush spread over his cheekbones that suddenly held definition; above his eyes the shine of constant seepage had vanished, and light lay at rest upon his brow."

     

  • Paul's Corner: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Betty Smith

    “There’s a tree that grows in Brooklyn.  Some people call it the Tree of Heaven.  No matter where it’s seed falls, it makes a tree which struggles to meet the sky.  It grows in boarded up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps.  It grows up out of cellar gratings.  It is the only tree that grows out of cement.  It grows lushly. . . survives without sun, water, and seemingly without earth.  It would be considered beautiful except there are so many of them.”

    So begins Betty Smith’s classic American novel of the generation of emigrants, which poured into the melting pot which was New York City at the turn of the 20th Century.  Irish, Jews, Italians, Poles, each on the run from the impossible circumstances present in their own troubled countries.

    Irish girl, Francie Nolan, eleven years old as the novel begins, is bright, curious, and sensitive and lives with her younger brother Neeley and her parents, Johnny, an alcoholic Irish tenor who sings in restaurants and her loving, Illiterate mother, Katie, who takes care of the family.

    I read the book first when I was twelve and was captivated by what I felt was its “realism”.  I remember telling my mother, “It’s just like real life.” though it was a long ways from the life I was living at the time. I’ve returned to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn several times since my first experience with “realism”, always with pleasure, often with memories of the way I used to be, the way I used to read and the meaning reading had for me in my lonely puberty.  

    Many of you will have read this novel as teenagers and many of you will have loved it as I have.  I invite you to join our Book Group Jan 18 at Prairie Lights.  7 PM.

  • Paul's Book Club: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - January 18, 2017

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Betty Smith

    A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN
    by Betty Smith

    “A profoundly moving novel, and an honest and true one.  . . .The Nolans lived in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn from 1902 until 1919. . . Primarily this book is about daughter, Francie.  She is a superb feat of characterization, an imaginative, alert, resourceful child.  And Francie’s growing up and beginnings of wisdom are the substance of 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.'"—New York Times

    This was a favorite book of mine, when I was in my early teens.  I’ve read it twice since and the reading experience has not diminished in the least. American GI’s during WWII read the 
    book and wept, dreaming of life in America.  

    Selected as one of the Books of the Century by The New York City Public Library.

    January 18 at Prairie Lights. 7 PM for Prairie Lights Book Club.