Monthly archives: August, 2015

THE MOCKING BIRD NEXT DOOR. LIFE WITH HARPER LEE by Marja Mills

mockingbirdHarper Lee sits only peripherally in my mind. I last read her classic To Kill a Mockingbird in high school, but was always more fascinated by the reclusive author herself. With the recent release of the very controversial and supposed prequel, Go Set a Watchman, reading Mills’ book was perfectly timed. Marja Mills, a Chicago Tribune reporter, was in the right place at the right time a few years ago when the story she (and a number of reporters before her) was hoping to cover morphed slowly into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.   We get a look behind the curtain into the life of one of literature’s most unprolific writers. Lee famously shunned the spotlight, the limelight and indeed any light anyone deemed to aim her way. But her life with her sister Alice in Monroeville, Alabama was both filled and led to her liking. Mills rented the house next door (with permission!) and we get a glimpse into Lee’s guarded life in a little town where the population both exalts and protects her privacy. Mills did an excellent job painting the portrait of a woman who is enjoying her life on her own terms.  Thanks Marja, and thank you to Harper Lee for allowing this book.

2014  Penguin  273 pages


FISH CHANGE DIRECTION IN COLD WEATHER by Pierre Szalowski

Okay, what is wrong with me?  A SECOND book translated from the original Quebecois. I vow to read book jackets more carefully.17120581  This novel weaves the stories of Montreal neighbours who need to help one another endure the famous ice storm of 1998.  Only this was bad. Very,very,bad. The book.  Not the storm.  Well, no, the storm was bad, but this?  It reads like a harlequin reject.  First we have the stripper who houses the Russian mathematician.  Then the gay couple who take in the racist and his son, only to completely rehabilitate the man using  two psych sessions and a bottle of Scotch whiskey.  And finally we have the child who asks the sky for help when his parents decided to end their marriage just hours before the storm.  I know I have to suspend disbelief for fiction but this was asking a little too much of me.  I cringed visibly about 3 times. For that reason alone I cannot recommend this novel but I will say this; I really, really liked the cover.

2007 HarperCollins  246 pages.