Sunday, January 2, 2011

50BC11 #2: Dark Tide:The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919

Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 by Stephen Puleo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you aren't aware of the Molasses Flood of 1919, you are likely, as I was, to chuckle just thinking about the Boston waterfront coated in the sticky stuff. But Stephen Puleo's narrative of this event is terrifying, heartbreaking, dramatic, yet never seems sensationalist. He opens the door to reveal a history not just of an isolated terrible tragedy, but the ongoing struggle between corporate power, politics, and ethnic/class stratification. This book isn't just about the fifteen foot high wave that killed over 20 people (according the legal ruling) and injured multitudes of others, but is about what justice really means when an unexpected tragedy takes center stage against the backdrop of society's everyday tragedies. Beautifully written and extensively researched, this is one of the most riveting historical accounts I've ever read.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

50BC11 #1: The Book of Joby

Happy New Year!
Well, I spent the first day of 2011 reading--and doing little else. I managed to polish off the last 300 pages of this one, which now qualifies as my first book in 2011's 50 Book Challenge.

The Book of JobyThe Book of Joby by Mark J. Ferrari

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was an epic undertaking for a first novel, and succeeds admirably, if sometimes a bit unevenly. From about page 300 to page 638, I had trouble putting the book down. Ferrari's rhythm of revelation is masterful, keeping facets of the narrative in the dark for the reader and the characters, but rarely at the same time. The beginning set up does feel a little cliché at times and maybe even corny, but as you read further into the book, the characters become important in and of themselves, no matter who they "represent." It is a wonderful read--full of imaginative description and plenty of action, but also with a lot of allegorical insight for the reader who wants more than just a fun story. My only real criticism is the Epilogue. I'd outlaw epilogues for fiction If I could. Sometimes it is ok to just leave loose ends rather than to tie them up in a few short pages.