What We Are Reading Today: Never a Lovely So Real

Updated 08 July 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Never a Lovely So Real

Author: Colin Asher

Colin Asher’s book is an incredibly detailed account of the life of a fascinating author, Nelson Algren. 
“The biography ends on a sad note, but in it, we learn that Nelson Algren enjoyed a wide variety of successes and failures along the road,” said a review on goodreads.com.
Algren was a “fascinating and bewildering character with an empathetic heart for the marginalized in society and a keen critique of American consumerism that emerged after the Second World War and a disdain for elitism,” the review added.
Susan Jacoby said in review for The New York Times that the first biography of Algren was published in 1989 — too soon after his death “for reconsideration of a novelist whose emphasis on the unfortunate was then deeply at odds with American culture.”
Another biography was published in October 2016. “The timing of Asher’s book, by contrast, is fortuitous, because many Americans are now preoccupied by economic and class disparities in ways not seen since the Depression,” the review added.


What We Are Reading Today: Bettyville

Updated 24 July 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Bettyville

Author: George Hodgman

Bettyville is a touching memoir about the relationship between a mother and son.
It is a memoir written with love by a man who returns home to care for his aging mother.
Author George Hodgman captures life as it was in small-town Missouri, where he grew up.
Hodgman “is a good writer, knows how to use repetition to good effect, knows how to tease the reader and then pull away, later returning to tease again,” said a review in goodreads.com.
“The memoir would especially appeal to those with family members with dementia as well as those who want to understand how it feels to want not to hurt or disappoint the ones you love,” it added.
“There are chapters on the colorful residents; there are sections on George’s publishing career; there are some awkward and frustrating stories from his childhood; and there are memories of his parents and grandmother,” said the review.
Hodgman died on Saturday at his home in Manhattan. He was 60.
“The book is instantly engaging, as Hodgman has a wry sense of humor, one he uses to keep others at a distance,” Eloise Kinney wrote in a review in Booklist.
“Yet the book is also devastatingly touching.”