Sunday, November 16, 2008

A little bit of history.

I finished reading Storming Heaven yesterday, and I really rather loved it. It's one of those books that I would never have considered reading on my own, like To Kill a Mockingbird and Beloved, but which I wind up loving.

Four different people tell the story--Rondal Lloyd, a coal miner and union organizer in West Virginia; C.J. Marcum, who I think is Rondal's uncle, or at least related to him somehow, the mayor of a town nearby; Rosa Angelelli, an Italian immigrant; and Carrie Bishop, a Nurse from Kentucky who gets rather tangled in it all. Each of them has a very distinct voice (it's written in first person), both in personality and in manner of speaking. All of them speak in dialect to a greater or lesser degree, Rosa most notably since her English is quite weak. I liked reading Carrie's sections best, because I liked the way she describes things--she's the most poetic, but one very definitely feels all her descriptions to be utterly true.

It's a very character driven novel, yet still it tells the story of a real event and it definitely has a strong plot. The whole book leads up to the Battle of Blair Mountain, in 1921, which was basically the explosion of the tension over attempting to unionize West Virginia coal mines. It fascinates me that these characters are fictional, yet so powerful and real even against the backdrop of true and rather terrible events, which almost seem like they should overwhelm the book. But they don't overwhelm the book, and that makes them more powerful.

I picked up a book of three E. Nesbit novels off a table of free books at school the other day, so I'm reading Five Children and It as I have time. I'm very fond of E. Nesbit--I'm sorry I didn't read more of her when I was younger, but even so her books kind of have the same feeling for me as do Arthur Ransome's or Edward Eager's.

The next Senior Lit book is Bastard Out of Carolina.

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