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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: Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

    Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster Svetlana Alexievich

    I was as surprised as most with the Nobel jury’s selection of Russian journalist, Svetlana Alexievich as the new Nobel Laureate in Literature. I did remember, however, reading her terrifying, eerie Voices from Chernobyl in 1997 in its first American translation.  Alexievich’s technique was simple.  She went to Chernobyl and talked to many of the people who absorbed huge amounts of nuclear radiation from the largest nuclear reactor disaster in history.  It is raw testimony, some eloquent, some surprisingly simple.  Voices of people who stayed, many scarred physically and mentally, come off the page leaving the reader with the very real idea that nuclear accidents can happen anywhere.  Alexievich’s interviews point as closely to the truth of what happened as is possible. 

        Rereading the book now, brings alive the same strangeness, a little like a horror film.  It made me wonder what had happened to the interviewees in the years since Alexievich directed her earnest, compassionate questions in their direction.  Few Americans would have objected to awarding the Nobel Prize to Studs Terkel.  Svetlana has had darker, fowler smelling fish to fry than the jolly Terkel; and her few books deserve to be remembered as long as human beings need to be warned of the consequences of their hubris. 

    Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster.  16.00

    Zinky Boys, a collection of interviews with Russian soldiers, who fought in Afghanistan, is also available in a 15.95 paperback. 

    Murakami will have to wait. The Nobel judges should sleep well.  

  • Paul's Corner: The New and Improved Romie Futch

    The New and Improved Romie Futch Julia Elliot

    Julia Elliott, the full treatment Elliot from which you can remove an l and a t and still have your Elliott, is a South Carolinian fiction writer whose low-rent characters will stretch the imaginations of most northerners.  The New and Improved Romie Futch is her hilarious first novel and Romie Futch(male) is a bit of a loser; a taxidermist, a failure at love and money, and finally, the subject of experiments which rather suddenly change his brain capacity several-fold, without changing his interests much.  Elliott’s humor embraces the American south, while getting in at least two or three very good snide ones in on every page. She’s a southerner and knows southern culture for what it is.  She is a writer who knows what writing can do and has more fun at it than most of her kind.  Charles Portis does it better, but almost no one else.  Want to know who Hogzilla is?  Start reading. 

  • Paul's Corner: Requiem

    New Collected Poems Wendell Berry

    REQUIEM

    1
    We will see no more
    the mown grass fallen behind him
    on the stiff ridges before night,
    or hear him laughing in the crop rows,
    or know the order of his delight.

    Though the green fields are my delight,
    elegy is my fate.  I have come to be
    survivor of many and go much
    that I love, that I won’t live to see
    come again into this world.

    Things that mattered to me once
    Won’t matter any more,
    for I have left the safe shore
    where magnificence of art
    could suffice my heart.

    2

    In the day of his work
    when the grace of the world
    was upon him, he made his way,
    not turning back or looking aside,
    light in his stride.

    Now may the grace of death
    be upon him, his spirit blessed
    in deep song of the world
    and the stars turning, the seasons
    returning, and long rest.

    —Wendell Berry for Owen Flood