1. In recent weeks, I’ve posted lists of some of my favorite books this year. (Part 1 and Part 2) But I wanted to give a special plug to my second favorite book ever. Second only to The Subway Chronicles of course. The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. Ok, I’m a little biased. I count the author, Ken Wheaton, as one of my friends. But don’t take my word for it. My mom gives it a thumbs up, and it’s making the rounds of her friends. But for something more official, check out this starred review from Booklist:
*Starred Review* Father Steve, a small-town Louisiana priest, has major problems. First, the women. Denise, a self-styled Lolita, is one of his two altar girls. Miss Rita, a centenarian daughter of a slave who helped raised Steve, lives on the booze, pork skins, and other illegal foods he sneaks into the nursing home. Four female congregants have stopped coming to morning mass because he made eye contact during the service. And Vicky, the illegitimate daughter of the previous priest, is becoming much more than a friend. Father Steve’s other friend, the charming Father Mark, is leaving the priesthood because of issues with his homosexuality. Yet Father Steve considers the Pentecostals to be the biggest thorn in his side. Their charismatic preacher has set up shop just down the road, and will stop at nothing to build his own flock, including wooing the local Catholics. So Father Steve does the only thing he can to keep his church intact: he organizes the First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. Readers need to hold onto their hats because Wheaton’s roller-coaster ride of a book has hilarious highs that plunge to soul-baring angst, then zoom back up to the top. –Shelley Mosley
2. The task of fiction is to achieve, by the power of the written word, a glimpse of truth we didn’t necessarily know was available to us.
– Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin
3. Oprah can. Oprah announced one of her last book club selections before her show goes off the air in May. It always sets the publishing community abuzz. Speculation begins about anything that might be a clue: page count, price point, publisher. This choice was a bit out of left field. Of the myriad of possibilities, she chose Charles Dickens. And not just one Dickens classic – a collection of A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. Most high schoolers are subjected to one or the other and then promptly buy the Cliff’s Notes or the movie. These aren’t the easiest of reads and the two novels are a hefty 848 pages, and many people have that dusty old copy in their basement left over from high school anyway. But if anyone can turn Dickens into gold, it’s Oprah.
4. My Uncle Nick passed away this week. He was elderly and had been in decline for some time, so the news was not unexpected. Today I’ll be going to pay my respects at the wake. He and my aunt were married 57 years. It’s hard to imagine. They met at a skating rink, and as he liked to say, it was easy to follow her around and around until she agreed to go out with him. He loved a good joke and was sharp witted until the end. He served in the army during WWII and then was a NYC firefighter. One of my fond memories is of him setting up large inner tubes for my cousin and me to float in the above ground pool they had. The tubes took up almost the whole pool, but we’d laze around while he did yard work. Back then he was an imposing guy, well over six feet, big and strapping, with a couple of tattoos on his arms. When he was done, he’d drive us to get Italian ices. We’d sit in the way back of the old green station wagon they had, hanging out the back window and wave to people on the street.
5. On a happier note, here’s a photo of Reggie from last winter. The way the cold has been settling in it won’t be long before we get this kind of snow. I put that coat on him, but I don’t think he minds the cold. He loves the snow. He dances around and rolls in it. Then of course he pees on it.
Have a great weekend!