Monthly Archives: August 2012

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

Jess Hall and his best friend sneak out of Sunday School to eavesdrop on the adult service, seeing something so frightening that Jess inadvertently interferes with the service. That small interruption then creates a family tragedy that soon involves the church and several other members of their rural North Carolina community.

I think Cash intends for the book to uphold a certain kind of faith. I read it as an examination of faith’s impotence and power. People turn to religion for aid and help, but find none. Meanwhile, it often leads them to alienate and harm the people who really do care for them, and many others, too. That seemed to be the case with many of the characters, at least. I say seems because Cash draws them sympathetically and mysteriously. Even the most patently fraudulent among them – the pastor, Carson Chambliss – left me wondering whether he might have been sincere.

As with most southern writing, the book felt too consciously rural. I know lots of country people. None are named Adelaide, or Clem, or Joe Bill. None have privies, either. The mix of kindness, ignorance, religion, alcohol and violence is spot-on, though.


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Posted by on August 4, 2012 in Fiction


The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

Through a series of vignettes, the book explores the lives of the staff at a small international paper located in Rome.

I enjoyed it, especially the chapters featuring the descendants of the paper’s wealthy founder. They sure seemed a lot like the Bluths. Also interesting was each character’s involvement in their particular job even as the paper, and the industry itself, was dying around them.

My only quibble: To many foreign phrases and names. Yes, Mr. Rachman, I am impressed by your knowledge of local Roman cuisine. Now please remember your job is to communicate.

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Posted by on August 4, 2012 in Fiction