March Book Picks
Grand or pine, they are essential to our environment and vistas. Here are two books, both ambitious tomes that will enhance your understanding of the role of the tree in nature and commerce.
In “Barkskins,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Shipping News,” Annie Proulx gives us a sweeping chronicle of the logging industry starting in the Canadian wilderness in the 17th century. It is masterful storytelling. I recommend following that with “The Overstory” by Richard Powers. He lays out multiple characters, each influenced by trees and brings them together in this monumental work.
A Little Quirky
For a completely different read, here are two unique, quirky selections. “Priestdaddy: A Memoir” by Patricia Lockwood. Her father became a Catholic priest with a wife and four kids - read the book, it explains how to do this. I was attracted to the story initially because I am Catholic and her father was at a parish in my former hometown. This book won the James Thurber Award for Humor. It is thoughtful, soul-searching, hilarious and raunchy.
“Bowlaway” by Elizabeth McCracken is reminiscent of John Irving whose work I adore. The characters are oddball New Englanders populating a small town in Massachusetts. A woman arrives at the turn of the century and opens a candlepin bowling alley which serves as a metaphor for love, loss, and loyalty.
“Washington Black” by Esi Edugyan
A gripping novel of a boy born into slavery in Barbados. His escape with the plantation master’s brother takes him to America and beyond as he discovers his self-worth, natural curiosity, and artistic and scientific ability. Trust, love, devotion, betrayal, and redemption are the themes of this superbly crafted story.
“The Kinship of Secrets” by Eugenia Kim
Last but not least, with Korea in the news, this book gave me an education about the Korean war. It is based on her personal story of a sister left behind in South Korea when her parents fled to the US during the war.