From the moment she entered the world, Francie needed to be made of stern stuff, for the often harsh life of Williamsburg demanded fortitude, precocity, and strength of spirit. Often scorned by neighbors for her family’s erratic and eccentric behavior-such as her father Johnny’s taste for alcohol and Aunt Sissy’s habit of marrying serially without the formality of divorce-no one, least of all Francie, could say that the Nolans’ life lacked drama. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the Nolans’ daily experiences are tenderly threaded with family connectedness and raw with honesty. Betty Smith has, in the pages of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, captured the joys of humble Williamsburg life-from “junk day” on Saturdays, when the children of Francie’s neighborhood traded their weekly take for pennies, to the special excitement of holidays, bringing cause for celebration and revelry.
We're continuing to celebrate CPL's 30th anniversary and 30 years of reading great books for the Adult Contemporary Book Club. Here's what we read 30 years ago...
Private eye Amos Walker is a Vietnam veteran who was thrown out of the Police Academy for punching a fellow cadet. He’s a hard man in a ruined city, scratching out a living looking for lost things.
Walker’s latest case comes by way of ex-mobster Ben Morningstar, who’s been living out his retirement in Phoenix while raising Maria, the daughter of a long-ago murdered friend. Only now, Maria is missing and the gangster needs Walker’s help. But the trail has gone cold—the only clue is a faded pornographic snapshot. Never one to give up, Walker witnesses the kidnapping of a former Vietnam friend and solves the murder of a young black labor leader while slugging his way to a solution. Fans of Raymond Chandler and Elmore Leonard’s crime fiction will find Estleman’s lean prose, retro style, and tough-guy hero irresistible.
In a nostalgic, yet nimble telling of his boyhood in Flushing, Michigan, Edmund Love notes that he was born into a world that ceased to exist almost as soon as he entered it. "In the first twelve years of my life," he writes, "rural America was swept away as though it has been a picture on a blackboard that had suddenly been erased." The Situation in Flushing is a humorous portrait of a place and people that have vanished from the American scene. With his unique brand of satire, Love provides sharp and amusing insight into the events and personalities that shaped his youth.