Rosie's Weekly Book Round Up 

Rosie's Weekly Book Round Up

Review: "Life in the Air Ocean" by Sylvia Foley Writers Reading Quicknotes New books for golfers Recent arrivals for the kids Recommended Reading: "The Langhorne Sisters" by James Fox What the book clubs are reading (Click on a book title or cover to order that book from Amazon.com) Drowning on Dry Land "Life in the Air Ocean," by Sylvia Foley (Alfred A. Knopf, $21) is a debut collection of nine short stories. The stories actually seem to be the outline of a novel still rolling around in Foley's head - in each we see members of two generations of the Mowry family of Carville, Tenn., at different periods in their family history. And what a family history it is. In "Cave Fish," the first story, Daniel Mowry is a Korean War veteran with a new wife and infant. In just 11 pages, Foley paints a picture of an unbelievably bleak and disappointing life. Despite dreams of being a rocket scientist, Daniel now works as a design engineer for a home-appliance manufacturer. His wife, Iris, is lonely and isolated; he worries that she might actually harm the child. To add insult to injury, the local Red Cross blood drive rejects him as anemic. At the end of a long, hot day, he makes his homeward journey by bus and by foot, only to join his sullen wife watching the baby roll itself over and over in the driveway. In subsequent stories, we see Daniel as an unhappy, misunderstood boy, as a cold husband, and as a child-abusing father. Iris is constantly teetering between mental illness and alcoholism and is a distant, uninvolved mother. The Mowry daughters, Ruth and Monica, suffer at the hands of their father in various ways. In other words, Foley gives us another classically "dysfunctional" family. Foley's style is interesting in many ways. She has a gift for seeing the small but crucial moments, and her language is spare and clean. She often leaves more unsaid than she tells. These stories lean heavily toward the bizarre and quirky, so if those are your tastes, this collection certainly deserves a spot on your summer reading list. - Mary Lloyd Parks Writers Reading Quicknotes Bob Woodward's new book, "Shadow," is being published by Simon & Schuster ($27.50) to intense hype. Three exerpts have been running in the Washington Post. From looking at the first two, you might be justified that it will be an overdose of gossip, but one that we may not be able to resist -- just as many haven't been able to resist Michael Isikoff's "Uncovering Clinton." (Crown Publishing, $25). Have you read the new Bob Woodward book? E-mail us and let us know what you think. If golf's his game...
by Steve Gilliam, Greensboro News & Record If only words could make it so, every high handicapper could pick up a golf instruction book and make the dream of shooting par (or less) come true. That not withstanding, two good instruction books have just been released, just in time for Father's Day. Nick Price, winner of British Open and PGA championships along with the 1997 Vardon Trophy, has written "The Swing: Mastering the Principles of the Game" (Knopf, $15 paperback). Price has written a thorough guide to developing what he calls an "efficient" game, starting with the swing, and working through the short game, putting and the mental aspects of golf. The book is a personal work for Price as well, containing excerpts from his diaries and anecdotes from his successful and not-so-successful years on the PGA Tour. Each of those diaries has contained the same advice, which can be shared by all golfers in search of better rounds: "Persevere! Persevere! Persevere!" High handicappers might want to read Hank Haney's "The Only Golf Lesson You'll Ever Need" (HarperResource, $25), which carries the subtitle, "Easy Solutions to Problem Golf Swings." Haney, who coaches Mark O'Meara, offers advice on fixing the bad swing. Some advice might seem radical, especially when he recommends dropping long irons (1-4) in favor of fairway woods. The book has well-illustrated chapters on set up, the swing plane, what every golfer wants (and it's not a hole-in-one), chipping and putting, pitching and green-side bunker play. Haney's book addresses the premise that golf is basically error correction, and he wryly notes, "There's a limit to how much fun you can have slicing every shot." For the golfer with a philosophical bent, there's M. Scott Peck's "Golf and the Spirit: Lessons for the Journey" (Harmony Books, $25). Peck is author of the best-selling "The Road Less Traveled," and he calls his book a "how not to" book. Peck takes his readers on a round at the imaginary Exotica Golf Course and Country Club. There are 19 chapters, which contain lessons on morality, humility, human nature, civility, God, competition, paradox, the human condition and even sexuality. Using golf as a metaphor, the author reflects on life and spirituality, noting, "If we choose to use it as such, I believe that golf, next to marriage and parenthood, can routinely be the greatest of life's learning opportunities." Steve Gilliam lives in Reidsville, N.C., works at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is a high handicapper. And for the Kids Summer is usually the big time for children to read for entertainment and enchantment. Here are some entertaining books for children compiled and commented on by Krys Stefansky of The Virginian-Pilot. "Cook-Doodle-Doo!" by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel, with illustrations by Janet Stevens (Harcourt Brace, $17) -- Ages 4-8. Just in time for strawberry season, here is a delightfully funny book about baking shortcake. The head chef is a rooster. Assisting him in the kitchen are a literate turtle, an over-eager iguana and a very hungry pot-bellied pig. The patient rooster keeps his unruly gaggle of friends in check, and somehow they manage to mix up a lovely shortcake despite some funny near-misunderstandings. Rooster's friends and the book's readers learn the difference between "flower" and "flour," a stick of butter and, well, a stick, and beating an egg with beaters rather than a baseball bat. The book's sidebars explain even more about baking in general and shortcakes specifically, and, at the end, readers are rewarded with the actual shortcake recipe used in the story. Stevens' illustrations are a hoot. Definitely read this. Both the shortcake and the iguana are worth it. "Some Good News," by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin for ages 7-10; (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $14) Those Cobble Street Cousins are at it again. This third book in Rylant's new series is as wholesome and sweet as ever. Lily, Rosie and Tess are still living with their Aunt Lucy while their parents are on tour with the ballet. The 9-year-olds have another one of their great ideas and begin publishing a newspaper and distributing it in their neighborhood. And, as usual, they continue to matchmake between their Aunt Lucy and her beau, Michael. More good news: "Special Gifts," the fourth book in the series, is also on the shelves. It tells the story of how the girls learn to sew and plan a winter solstice celebration. In both, Halperin's sketches are winsome and sweet. These are books that inspire little girls to make up their own projects. Our only fear is that this trio's year with Aunt Lucy will someday end and, with it, so may this charming family of characters. Rylant, say it ain't so! "Annabel the Actress Starring in 'Gorilla My Deams,'" by Ellen Conford, illustrated by Renee W. Andriani ages 7-9 (Simon & Schuster, $14) Annabel aspires to be an actress. So when she gets a gig to appear as a gorilla at a 5-year-old's birthday party for $10, naturally, she accepts. The first hurdle, the gorilla suit, is overcome. A friend whips one up out of a raincoat's fuzzy liner. The second problem, the gorilla mask, is also solved. Until, that is, Annabel's lifelong enemy, Lowell Boxer, steals the mask and leaves Annabel to improvise at the birthday party. A true believer of the saying, "The show must go on," Annabel forges ahead and is a hit. The only thing left to deal with is Lowell. Full of zany illustrations by Andriani, this book will appeal to both girls and boys because of its crazy plot twists and cast of characters. The author promises further adventures with Annabel. Good thing. Recommended Reading Richmond Reads The NNBC (No Name Book Club; they never have been able to agree on a name) has been meeting for 20 years -- a wonderful record for a reading group. Member Carolyn Johnston tells us that it has 22 members, six of whom are presently on leave. Each year a committee of three picks out the books for the year. Each member is supposed to have read the books to be discussed and an assigned reviewer leads the discussion. Last year, the members read and talked about a number of biographies. Next year the group has the following assignments: "Tender at the Bone," by Ruth Reichl (Broadway Books, paper, $13) -- September "The Sparrow," by Mary Doria Russell (Fawcett Books; paper, $12) -- October "The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver (HarperPerennial, paper, $14) -- November December there is a Christmas party and no assigned book "West with the Night," by Beryl Markham (North Point Press, paper, $13) -- January "Under the Tuscan Sun," by Frances Mayes (paper, $15) -- February "The Christ Haunted Landscape," by Susan Ketchin (University of Mississippi Press, paper, $16.95) -- March "Slaves in the Family," by Edward Ball (Random House, paper, $15.95) -- April In May there is a year-end party, and the beginning of summer vacation Carolyn Johnston also shared with us her all-time favorite books: "My Antonia," by Willa Cather (Houghton Mifflin, paper, $5.95) "Everyone should read it," and Wallace Stegner's "Angle of Repose" (Penguin USA, paper, $13.95) "I liked the rhythm to the writing in Stegner's story. It was wonderful and very interesting that a man has the kinds of insights he brought to that book." The Richmond Public Library has three book clubs that continue to meet in the summer: The group that meets at the Belmont Library, on the second Monday at 6:45 p.m. will discuss "London," by Edward Rutherfurd (Fawcett Books, paper, $7.99) in July, and "Agatha Christie: An Autobiography," by Agatha Christie (Boulevard, paper, $7.99) in August. The Main Library hosts the Luncheon Book Club that meets the second Tuesdays at noon in the Board Room. The July assignment is "A Big Storm Kicked it Over," by Laurie Colwin (Harperperrenial, paper, $12) and "Under the Tuscan Sun," by Frances Mayes. At Ginter Park the book group meets the fourth Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Ginter Park Library. In June the discussion will be about "Snow Falling on Cedars," by David Guterson (Vintage Books, paper $13) and "The Wedding," by Dorothy West (Anchor, paper, $10.95). The public is cordially invited to the Library Book Clubs. Online book editor, Rozanne Epps Have you read a book (new or old) that you would like to tell us about? E-mail us at rmail@richmond.infi.net and type BOOKS in the subject line.

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