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Monday, June 6, 2011

Life is Short but Wide

Life is Short but Wide
J. California Cooper
Doubleday, 2009

In the early twentieth century, Irene and Val build a life for themselves in Wideland, Oklahoma, while also allowing neighbors Bertha and Joseph to live on their land, and the two families cope with changing times and fortunes. Narrated by a local woman with no clear ties to either family, this story spans many generations. Irene and Val’s two daughters go different directions when their parents die: one stays away after college and the other one lives on in the family house while Bertha and Joseph live nearby. Each generation has its own joys and trials while living in that small town, but they persevere through the years, sometimes with tragic consequences.

I did not enjoy the homespun and folksy tone of this book, nor did I “get” the meandering plot that went back and forth through time for no apparent reason. I found most of the characters to lack a backbone or even a reasonable explanation for their actions – or inaction. This could be classified as a family saga, but some generations are given barely a mention while much time is spent on others.

I’m not sure why I even finished the book. The narrator does tease the reader with hints to an upcoming event that may have compelled me to finish, but the ending was not worth the effort. I also found the Jehovah’s Witness proselytizing to be a major turnoff.

Oh, and I love the cover and title. Maybe that was why I finished it.


Other books by this author:
Some Soul to Keep (1987)
Family (1991)
In Search of Satisfaction (1994)
Some Love Some Pain Sometime (1995)
The Wake of the Wind (1998)
The Future Has a Past; stories
Some People, Some Other Place (2004)
Wild Stars Seeking Midnight Suns (2006)

Other titles you may enjoy:

The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips (2007)
Witnessing what she believes to be the murder of an infant in a Depression-era Alabama mining town, nine-year-old Tess Moore and her civic-minded family subsequently struggle with the darker side of their racially torn community.

Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell (2006)
Reaching her sixteenth year in the harsh Ozarks while caring for her poverty-stricken family, Ree Dolly learns that they will lose their house unless her bail-skipping father can be found and made to appear at an upcoming court date.

Right as Rain by Bev Marshall (2004)
Living and working side-by-side on the rural Southern farm belonging to their white employers, Tee Wee and Icey forge a bond based on their shared servitude and their equally painful pasts.

1 comment:

  1. This just proves the old adage, "You can't judge a book by it's cover!" *wink*