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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 Corner: 1984 by George Orwell

    1984 George Orwell

    Sat up last night and read 1984 all the way through. I'd forgotten how artful and perfect it is, even poetic at times, while telling the ugliest of stories. I remember reading it at 14 and being so frightened that I went to my parents to ask them if maybe there was something I didn't know that maybe I ought to know. My father did his best to explain the notion of the "cautionary story.” I was still scared.

     

  • Paul's Corner: LaRose by Louise Erdrich

    LaRose Louise Erdrich

    Two Ojibwe families, so close they might be a single family, live close to each other. Each family has a 5-year-old son. Best friends. There is a terrible accident, there must be a terrible accident or the story cannot move forward. Landreaux Iron is out hunting one North Dakota morning. He pulls the trigger and kills five-year-old, Dusty Ravich. The two Ojibwe families must do what they can to change things back to the way they were.

    I’ve seen this plot work its way through any number of incarnations over the years almost always to a tragic end.  Erdrich’s new book gives this nearly unimaginably sad story a tone of hope by virtue of the Ojibwe respect for one another and a native ethic very different from the European eye for an eye notion.  

    Each character must learn to wrap themselves in the sadness of the moment, to step forward, to learn a different life. Two mothers, two fathers and five-year-old LaRose who understands so little.  Such a beautiful book.  Such lessons. Louise Erdrich has become one of our finest novelists.
     --- PAUL

     

  • Paul's Corner: Till My Baby Comes Home by Jean Ross Justice

    Till My Baby Comes Home Jean Ross Justice

    Jean Ross Justice published her only novel, Till My Baby Comes Home, a little before her death in Iowa City at 91. She had been the wife of the late Donald Justice, a Pulitzer Prize winning poet and for many years a teacher at the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Many, who knew and loved Jean Justice, had no idea that she was, herself, an extraordinary writer of fiction. She published two wise and sophisticated volumes of stories, A Family Feeling and The End of a Good Party in 2008 and 2014.  

    Till My Baby Comes Home is set in North Carolina in the 1940s and young women had their minds on soldiers on their way to battles across the ocean.  Justice understands small town life and the way an event as grand as a World War can change the lives of all it touches.

    Hallie Benoy takes a walk with Joe Barbieri, a soldier, in North Carolina on maneuvers:

    “You’re different from anybody I ever knew before too!  I never met an Italian before.”
    “No Eye-ties in your past, no Dagos or Wops?”
    “No,” showing a polite disgust with the words, which she’d never heard before. 
    It was so easy to talk to this soldier; it felt almost like a relief, as if, without knowing it, she’d been saving things to tell him.  They’d covered some ground the first Saturday night, when she’d explained about Griffin.  When Joe had handed her his address on the sidewalk, he’d added suddenly,  “Unless you’re married,” maybe because, close up,  he’d seen she was older than he’d first thought.  “I don’t know, to tell you the truth,” was what she replied.
    “You said you didn’t know if you were married or not?” he’d asked the week  before as they walked to Dark Victory.
    “He got in some trouble and took off.  He’s been writing and sending me money every so often but now, suddenly, the last two years—nothing,” letting a meaningful pause follow.  
    “That’s too bad.”  He gave her a searching look.