Transcription by Kate Atkinson – Book

kate-atkinson-running in heels

Kate Atkinson’s new novel, Transcription, joins a spate of World War literature coming out of Great Britain. All these books talk about what British citizens who were not soldiers did during wars. People wanted to help with the war effort and since many of the adults who were still in British cities were women, the tasks women took on often affected them in ways similar to the way soldiers are affected. The end of the war found women who had done unlikely, dangerous and heroic things, having to assimilate their war time behavior into the person they would be moving forward in peacetime. Other recent novels include: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn which I have not read yet, Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce, and Warlight by Michael Ondaatje.

Why is this the moment when so many writers were moved to write about such very similar experiences? Are people feeling an instability in political institutions these days that could lead to war? Are people rushing to offer us some patriotic roles that we could play? Is this a creative brain meld? Is this just an odd coincidence or nostalgic moment? With all the authoritarian figures rising in nations that once flirted with democracy does this feel somewhat similar to the rise of “you know who” before WWII? Are authors feeling the same fears we all feel that we may be called upon to defend our freedoms in the very near future, or to keep them alive for what could be decades of darkness?

Transcription is an absorbing book all on its own, but I recommend giving all these books a read because each takes a different tack on the same subject. In Transcription our heroine Juliet Armstrong is recruited by MI5 to help keep an eye on Hitler lovers and want-to-be Nazi’s living in England. British intelligence rents two adjacent apartments. In one a rather convincing Godfrey Toby, a spy of course, makes friends and collects important data about England’s defenses. These friends of Hitler think Gordon will pass this strategic data on to Germany. Of course this is simply a way for Britain to keep this information away from Germany and keep potential British traitors from doing real damage to the allied side in the war.

The second apartment is filled with recording equipment and a typewriter where a very young Juliet listens to what Gordon’s unwary informants reveal and then types a transcript that tries to give a word-by-word script of who is talking and what they reveal. Not all of the dialogue comes across clearly but Juliet does the best she can. Then Juliet is embroiled further into spying when she is asked to adopt a new persona and join a more upscale right wing group of traitors. This is how a girl who simply types gets deeply into something that is so unforgettable that she will never be free of either her memories or her handlers.

Do books make the future and the culture happen, do they predict what will come, or do they just reflect the present and the culture of the times in which they are written? It seems that books can do all of these things, and they can sometimes do all of them at one and the same time, which is probably one of the aspects of reading great books that keeps readers hooked. So what will turn out to be true of this little cluster of intellectual doppelgangers?

I am happy to read every book that Kate Atkinson writes and I feel the same way about Michael Ondaatje. I don’t know the other two authors as well but I may eventually be adding them to my long list of beloved authors. However, I would much prefer that these novels be reflective rather than predictive. You may find that you begin asking yourself how you would have performed under similar circumstances. One more point, possibly a #metoo point, although all of these books feature female characters, not one of them is a “chick” book. But because they all happen in the past, all these women work for men. However war seems to blur the lines between women’s work and men’s work as you will see. Don’t forget to spend a few moments thinking about why this book is called Transcription rather than Transcriptions. Thank you Kate.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Running in Heels

Fear by Bob Woodward – Book

Fear Washington Times

Bob Woodward (of Watergate fame) recently published his exposé of the chaos in the early days of the Trump White House called simply, Fear: Trump in the White House.If you have been paying attention to the news (not Fox) then what you are reading in this book is hardly surprising. You see Steve Bannon come and go. The James Comey drama is in there. You see the contributions of people who played a role in those early days but are now gone, like Hope Hicks and Rob Porter. Tillerson and Trump disagree about foreign policy and Tillerson is replaced by Pompeo. Some of Trump’s fears about the Mueller investigation are covered.

There was a recent article in the NYT’s written by an anonymous source who told us that Trump’s West Wing staff are so worried about Trump’s orders telling them to design documents that will solidify bad policies, orders to place those documents on his desk to be signed, that they delay producing the papers and even remove the documents if they appear on Trump’s desk. They know that Trump’s mind jumps around from one idea to the next and that if the policy document is not placed in front of him he will forget about it (for a while). This is all covered in Woodward’s book. Woodward was there so it helps us feel like we are actually in the Oval Office, flies on the wall, experiencing staff fears in real time.

One of the greatest of all the fears is the one that shows us that someone who formed his policy ideas in some earlier decade, someone as inflexible as Trump, someone unwilling to learn about in-depth intelligence and to apply it to his fondly-held theories, someone unwilling to evolve, to revise old dogma, to encompass new data controls the nuclear codes. People in former administrations did not lightly make nuclear threats in hopes that going nuclear will turn enemies into friends. We don’t usually brag that our nuclear capabilities are greater than those of our enemies although we believe that it is basically understood. Nuclear boasting might backfire and the consequences could be devastating. Sometimes threatening documents, once produced, were removed from presidential proximity before he could sign them, but the fear that surrounds any casual treatment of nuclear weapons is always there.

Bob Woodward is not just making us aware that Trump’s staff lives in fear of Trump inadequacies and belligerent nature; he is telling us that we need to be fearful of a man who is filling a position he does not understand. We need to know that he is running America on ego, calcified opinions, and praise elicited by implied threats (fear). We need to follow Bob Woodward into those rooms in our nation’s White House and watch the slapdash way that business is now conducted daily in America. His account is very readable and the actual meat of the book ends well before the pages do. What follows is a section of photos, some pretty useful end notes, and a detailed index. If you have been paying attention to an in-depth news station like MSNBC it will all be very familiar. What will be different is that this time you are “in the room where it happens”.

The children in this Rainbow Room video offer revealing and very brief reviews of Bob Woodward’s book, reviews that sum things up very well.

https://mashable.com/video/stephen-colbert-reading-rainbow-woodward-trump/#FGlobArRcZqb

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Washington Times

Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva – Book

the fallen angel You Tube

Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva is Book 12 in the Gabriel Allon series, the fictional, but famous spy for the Israeli Intelligence Service at the Office on King Saul Boulevard in Tel Aviv Israel. Gabriel is an unusual person to be an assassin for justice, world peace, and the survival of Israel. He is an artist who gave up an artist’s life (his own) when recruited by Shamron, the aging hero of Israel, to pursue the terrorists who killed athletes from his beloved homeland at the Olympics in Munich.

Since that op he has trained with a talented art restorer and has become one of the best restorers of classic religious art in Europe. He is a bundle of contradictions but his strong values tie the whole package together. Gabriel’s family was, for the most part, killed in the Holocaust, except his mother who never really recovered from the horrors she experienced. Gabriel lost his first wife and his son to a car bomb, probably targeted towards Gabriel. Terrorists blew his life away right before his eyes. And even though they failed to kill the one the car bomb was designed to kill this became a sorrow he had to carry with him always. It hardened his heart in a more personal way and made him more lethal, more determined to fight evil in the world.

Through the first 11 books there have been plenty of evil actors to stop in their tracks, tracks which always are about either power and world domination or money or both. Eventually Gabriel remarried to the beautiful Chiara, daughter of a Rabbi, who also does intelligence work for the Office. Sometimes she is with him on ops and sometimes she stays home. Putting her at risk brings back old memories for Gabriel. After a while Allon is joined by a team, each person with different strengths and we become concerned about their safety in these rather impossible-seeming, risky, but usually successful operations they undertake. Gabriel is frequently wounded because he cannot let a villain get away. He retires every time he completes a mission as if he has beaten evil once and for all. But he knows this war is endless and he up-ends his life over and over again to do battle when he must. After a while we begin to wish there really was a Gabriel Allon and a Chiara, et al out there in the world, abolishing amorality and immorality.

So in Fallen Angel we have a lovely young woman who agrees to inventory antiquities in the Vatican collection who is found artistically dead after a fall from a balcony in the Sistine Chapel. At first her death is ruled a suicide. But Gabriel is a friend of the Vatican’s top two people, the Pope and his constant companion Father Donati, because he saved the Pope’s life and unraveled one of the plots that live in the competitive Vatican culture. Gabe is restoring a Caravaggio in some basement on the Vatican grounds and Donati has him summoned to tap into his expertise. Gabriel (also a fallen angel) does not believe this is a suicide. But when he pulls a couple of strings he opens a Pandora’s box of illegal trading in antiquities. These thieves never preserve provenance and this represents a huge loss of historical data about ancient sites and people. Once again what begins in Italy leads Gabriel all over the world and eventually home to Israel.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – You Tube

Find me on goodreads.com as Nancy Brisson

October 2018 Book List

October 2018 Book List

book heart ector county library

I am attempting to be a bit more interactive so I am turning this book list into

A Survey and a Drawing.

Choose 5 titles that interest you from this book list. Write them on a post card or a on a sheet of paper to place in an envelope. Send your list to PO Box 3876, Syracuse, NY 13220.

Drawing: After I receive 50 surveys I will pick a winner and send a mug (see picture at the end of the list. You will need to add your email address to the card or note (I will not keep it after the drawing) so I can contact you if you win. You will also need to say whether you want the cup that has the flowered armchair, or the cheap seats.

Amazon

Literature and Fiction

Virgil Wander by Leif Enger

Killing Commendatore: A Novel by Haruki Murakami *

Unsheltered: a Novel by Barbara Kingsolver *

Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners by Gretchen Anthony

A Spark of Light: A Novel by Jodi Picoult

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

Waiting for Eden: A Novel by Eliot Ackerman

Little: A Novel by Edward Carey

November Road: A Novel by Lou Berney

Gone So Long: A Novel by Andre Dubus III

Mysteries and Thrillers

The Other Wife by Michael Robotham

Mycroft and Sherlock by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Anna Waterhouse

The Reckoning by John Grisham *

Wrecked (An IQ Novel) by Joe Ide

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

The Craftsman: A Novel by Sharon Bolton

Consumed (Firefighters Series) by JR Ward

Thin Air: A Novel by Richard K. Morgan

November Road: A Novel by Lou Berney

Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920’s by Leslie S Klinger, Otto Penzier

The Witch Elm by Tana Frence

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Nonfiction

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Brand by Hand: Blisters, Calluses, Clients: A Life of Design by Jon Contino

Last Days of the Concorde: The Crash of Flight 4500 and the End of Supersonic Passenger Travel by Samme Chittum

Beautiful Country Burn Again: Democracy, Rebellion and Revolution by Ben Fountain *

1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List by James Mustich *

Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts by Brené Brown

Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking

Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World by Scott Harrison, Lisa Sweetingham

Impossible Owls: Essays by Brian Phillips

The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis

Beastie Boys Book by Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz

Like War: The Weaponization of Social Media by PW Singer, Emerson T Brooking

The Souls of Yellow Folk: Essays by Wesley Yang

Biographies and Memoirs

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told: An Oral History by Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally

I Regret This: Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities and Other Stuff by Abbi Jacobson

My Love Story by Tina Turner *

The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters: The Tragic and Glamorous Lives of Jackie and Lee by Sam Kashner, Nancy Schoenberger *

Everything’s Trash But It’s Okay by Phoebe Robinson, Ilana Allzer

All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir by Nicole Chung

The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London by Christopher Skaife

This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Phillips

Who is Michael Orvitz? By Michael Orvitz

Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know: The Fathers of Wilde, Yeats, and Joyce by Colm Toibin

Roger Daltry: Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite: My Story by Roger Daltrey

There Will Be No Miracles Here: A Memoir by Casey Gerald

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W Blight

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life by Jane Sherron de Hart

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Exit Strategy: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

New York Times Book Review

Sept. 2

Nonfiction

The Splintering of the American Mind by William Egginton

The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

Arthur Ashe: A Life by Raymond Arsenault

Bitwise by David Auerbach

Identity by Francis Fukuyama

The Lies that Bind by Kwame Anthony Appiah

Dead Girls by Alice Bolin

Against Memoir by Michelle Tea

Dickinson’s Nerves, Frost’s Woods by William Logan

Fiction

Red, White, Blue by Lea Carpenter

Safe Houses by Dan Fesperman

The Garden Party of Fugitives: A Literary Tale of Love and Obsession by Ceridwen Dovey

This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Read Me by Leo Benedictus

The Shortlist

A Walk Through Paris by Eric Hazan

My Twenty-Five Years in Provence: Reflections on Then and Now by Peter Mayle  *

A Bite-Sized History of France: Gastronomic Tales of Revolution, War, and Enlightenment by Stéphane Hénaut and Jeni Mitchell

(not quite) Mastering the Art of French Living by Mark Greenside

Crime Novels

Gravesend by William Boyle

Depth of Winter by Craig Johnson

In Her Bones by Kate Moretti

Sunrise Highway by Peter Blauner

Sept. 9

Nonfiction

The 21 Lessons for the 21stCentury by Yuval Noah Hazari

Fashion Climbing by Bill Cunningham

Between Hope and Fear: A History of Vaccines and Human Immunity by Michael Kinch

Boom Town by Sam Anderson (Oklahoma City)

Small Trip by Lisa Brennan-Jobs

The Last Englishmen: Love, War, and the End of Empire by Deborah Baker

Fiction

Presidio by Randy Kennedy

The Devoted by Blair Hurley

The World is a Narrow Bridge by Aaron Their

Cherry by Nico Walker

Open Men by Lisa Locascio

Babylon by Yasmina Reza

Katerina by James Frey

Sept. 16

Nonfiction

How Fascism Works by Jason Stanley

These Truths by Jill Lepore  *

The Browns of California by Miriam Powell

Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg

Heartland by Sarah Smarsh

Rule Makers, Rule Breakers by Michele Gelfand

Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin

The Embattled Vote in America by Allan J. Lichtman

The Fall of Wisconsin by Dan Kaufman

The Improbable Wendell Willkie by David Levering Lewis

The Oath and the Office by Corey Brett Schneider

America: The Farewell Tour by Chris Hedges *

Fiction

Conscience by Alice Mattison

Crime

The Man Who Came Uptown by George Pelicanos

A Forgotten Place by Charles Todd

When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica

Paris in the Dark by Robert Olen Butler

Essays

Rising Out of Hatred by Eli Saslow

Sept. 23

Fiction

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Still Life with Monkey by Katharine Weber

Romance

The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Stripped by Zoey Castile

Free Fall by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner

The Duke I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham

The Shortlist (Fiction-Lost young men)

Empire of Light by Michael Bible

aBrother: A Novel by David Chariandy

A Diet of Worms by Erik Rasmussen

Nonfiction

Can You Tolerate This? By Ashleigh Young

The Schoolhouse Gate by Justin Driver

A Chill in the Air by Iris Origo

Underbug by Lisa Margonelli

The Victorian and the Romantic by Neil Stevens

Big Game by Mark Leibovich

The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman

Rust and Stardust by T. Greenwood

Ticker by Mimi Swartz

Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy by Anne Boyd Rioux

Disordered Brain by Eric Kandel

Sept. 30

Fiction

My Struggle, Bk. 6, by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart  *

His Favorites by Kate Walbert

The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Ohio y Stephen Markley

Immigrant Montana by Amitava Kumar

The Piranhas by Roberto Saviano

Nonfiction

The Field of Blood by Joanne Freeman

Passing for Human by Liana Finch

Publisher’s Weekly Tip Sheet

Sept. 3

Better Times by Sara Batkie (Short Stories)

Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs  (NF)

Terra Nullius by Claire G Coleman (F)

Fashion Climbing: A Memoir with Photographs by Bill Cunningham (Memoir)

Pay No Heed to the Rockets: Life in Contemporary Palestine by Marcello DiCintio (NF)

The Last Palace: Europe’s Turbulent Century in Five Lives and One Legendary House by Norman Eisen (NF)

Pale Horse Rider by William Cooper (F)

The Rise of Conspiracy and the Fall of Trust in America by Mark Jacobson (NF)

Every Day is Extra by John Kerry (Memoir)

The Golden State by Lydia Kiesling (F)

And the Ocean was Our Sky by Patrick Ness (F)

After the Winter by Guadalupe Nettel, trans. from the Spanish by Rosalind Harvey (F)

We That Are Young by Preti Taneja (F)

Ponti by Sharlene Teo (F)

Sept. 17

Kafka’s Last Trial: The Case of a Literary Legacy by Benjamin Balint (NF)

American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment by Shana Bauer (NF) *

Young Benjamin Franklin: The Birth of Ingenuity by Nick Bunker (NF)

A Heart in the Body of the World by Deb Coletti (F)

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (F)

Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin (NF)

The Infinite Blacktop by Sarah Gran (F)

Heart: A History by Sandeep Jauhar (NF)

The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by Ben Macintyre (NF)

The Tango War: The Struggle for the Hearts, Minds and Riches of Latin America during World War II by Mary Jo McConahay (NF)

How to Invent Everything: A Survival’s Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler by Ryan North (Humorous)

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh (Memoir)

Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood and the World by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope (NF)

Pride by Ibi Zoboi (YA+)

Sept. 21

Waiting for Eden by Eliot Ackerman (F)

Bad Friends by Ancco, trans. from the Korean by Janet Hong (F)

Transcription by Kate Atkinson (F)

Beautiful Country Burn Again: Democracy, Rebellion, and Revolution by Ben Fountain (Essays)

The War Outside by Monica Hesse (YA+)

The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters: The Tragic and Glamorous Lives of Jackie and Lee by Sam Kasher and Nancy Schoenberger (NF)

The Governesses by Anne Serre, trans. from the French by Mark Hutchinson (F)

Home After Dark by David Small  (F)

The Shape of the Ruins by Juan Gabriel Vásquez (F)

Oct. 1

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung (Memoir)

The Ice Swimmer by Kjell Ola Dahl, trans. from the Norwegian by Dan Bartlett (F)

Gone So Long by Andre Dubus III (F)

Seven Types of Atheism by John Gray (NF)

What If this Were Enough? Essays by Heather Havrilesky (NF)

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018 edited by NK Jemisin (Sht. Stories)

The Taiga Syndrome by Christine Rivera Garza trans. from the Spanish by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana (F)

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman (YA+)

On Desperate Ground: The Marines at the Reservoir, the Korean War’s Greatest Battle by Hampton Sides (NF)

Reagan: An American Journey by Bob Spitz (NF)

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Ector County Library

IMG_0803