November 17, 2018 | sobczakd
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.
In his most brilliant and powerful novel, Pat Conroy tells the story of Tom Wingo, his twin sister, Savannah, and the dark and violent past of the family into which they were born. Set in New York City and the low-country of South Carolina, the novel opens when Tom, a high school football coach whose marriage and career are crumbling, flies from South Carolina to New York after learning of his twin sister's suicide attempt. Savannah is one of the most gifted poets of her generation, and both the cadenced beauty of her art and the jumbled cries of her illness are clues to the too-long-hidden story of her wounded family. In the paneled offices and luxurious restaurants of New York City, Tom and Susan Lowenstein, Savannah's psychiatrist, unravel a history of violence, abandonment, commitment, and love. And Tom realizes that trying to save his sister is perhaps his last chance to save himself. With passion and a rare gift of language, the author moves from present to past, tracing the amazing history of the Wingos from World War II through the final days of the war in Vietnam and into the 1980s, drawing a rich range of characters: the lovable, crazy Mr. Fruit, who for decades has wordlessly directed traffic at the same intersection in the southern town of Colleton; Reese Newbury, the ruthless, patrician land speculator who threatens the Wingos' only secure worldly possession, Melrose Island; Herbert Woodruff, Susan Lowenstein's husband, a world-famous violinist; Tolitha Wingo, Savannah's mentor and eccentric grandmother, the first real feminist in the Wingo family. Pat Conroy reveals the lives of his characters with surpassing depth and power, capturing the vanishing beauty of the South Carolina low-country and a lost way of life.
Billy has long dreamt of owning not one, but two dogs. So when he's finally able to save up enough money for two pups to call his own--Old Dan and Little Ann--he's ecstatic. It doesn't matter that times are tough; together they'll roam the hills of the Ozarks. Soon Billy and his hounds become the finest hunting team in the valley. Stories of their great achievements spread throughout the region, and the combination of Old Dan's brawn, Little Ann's brains, and Billy's sheer will seems unbeatable. But tragedy awaits these determined hunters--now friends--and Billy learns that hope can grow out of despair, and that the seeds of the future can come from the scars of the past.
Emma is beautiful and bored, trapped in her marriage to a mediocre doctor and stifled by the banality of provincial life. An ardent devourer of sentimental novels, she longs for passion and seeks escape in fantasies of high romance, in voracious spending and, eventually, in adultery. But even her affairs bring her disappointment, and when real life continues to fail to live up to her romantic expectations, the consequences are devastating. Flaubert's erotically charged and psychologically acute portrayal of Emma Bovary caused a moral outcry on its publication in 1857. It was deemed so lifelike that many women claimed they were the model for his heroine; but Flaubert insisted- 'Madame Bovary, c'est moi.' This modern translation by Flaubert's biographer, Geoffrey Wall, retains all the delicacy and precision of the French original.
In his most extraordinary book, “one of the great clinical writers of the twentieth century” (The New York Times) recounts the case histories of patients lost in the bizarre, apparently inescapable world of neurological disorders. Oliver Sacks’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat tells the stories of individuals afflicted with fantastic perceptual and intellectual aberrations: patients who have lost their memories and with them the greater part of their pasts; who are no longer able to recognize people and common objects; who are stricken with violent tics and grimaces or who shout involuntary obscenities; whose limbs have become alien; who have been dismissed as retarded yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents. If inconceivably strange, these brilliant tales remain, in Dr. Sacks’s splendid and sympathetic telling, deeply human. They are studies of life struggling against incredible adversity, and they enable us to enter the world of the neurologically impaired, to imagine with our hearts what it must be to live and feel as they do. A great healer, Sacks never loses sight of medicine’s ultimate responsibility: “the suffering, afflicted, fighting human subject.”