‘Days Without End’ by Sebastian Barry tells the story of Thomas McNulty, a young Irishman who emigrates to Canada and later the United States in the mid-19th century after his family perished in the Great Famine. He befriends and falls in love with John Cole when they are teenagers and they work at a saloon where they dress as women and dance for miners. They later enlist for the US army fighting in two wars and adopt an orphaned Indian Sioux girl who they name Winona. Continue reading
Tag Archives: United States
‘Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City’ by Matthew Desmond is a piece of contemporary narrative non-fiction reporting very much in the same vein as one of my favourite non-fiction books of 2016 Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge. While Younge explored the circumstances of ten fatal shootings involving children and teenagers in a single day in 2013, Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and their experiences of the private housing rental market in the city and its suburbs. During previous financial crises in the twentieth century, evictions were comparatively rare, but numbers have skyrocketed since the last recession. Desmond explores the reasons behind why this has happened as well as the far-reaching social consequences. Continue reading
I enjoyed reading Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld a couple of years ago and as part of my ongoing efforts to read other books by authors I have discovered since starting my blog, I turned to Sittenfeld’s best known novel ‘American Wife’ which was published in 2008. It is a portrait of Alice Lindgren and her path towards becoming First Lady of the United States in 2001, from her youth in Wisconsin, to marriage and motherhood in her thirties through to her life in the White House during her husband’s unpopular presidency. Knowing that the story was inspired by key events in the life of Laura Bush means it is difficult not to picture Alice’s husband Charlie Blackwell as George W. Bush who took office in the same year. Continue reading
‘The Nix’ by Nathan Hill tells the story of Samuel Andresen-Anderson, a thirty-something college professor with writer’s block whose estranged mother Faye is arrested for throwing rocks at a conservative Presidential candidate and subsequently portrayed in the media as a radical hippie. Samuel is on the verge of being sued by his publisher for failing to produce the novel he received a huge advance for several years earlier and in order to avoid bankruptcy, he must write a biography of his mother who he hasn’t seen for over twenty years. However, his quest for information about Faye reveals that she has a far more complex past than he ever imagined. Continue reading
‘Another Day in the Death of America’ by Gary Younge examines the stories of the ten children and teenagers who are known to have died on a single day in the United States as a result of gun violence. Younge picked Saturday 23rd November 2013 at random which happened to be the day after the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and less than a year after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Connecticut. A tragic portrait of gun culture in contemporary America emerges from the harrowing stories behind each fatal shooting. Continue reading
Howdy, do you speak American? Or do you prefer conversing in Estuary English with some Cockney rhyming slang thrown in? The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once observed that “England and America are two countries separated by the same language”. If the modern publishing industry is anything to go by, then this sentiment certainly applies to the large numbers of books edited in both British and American English.
Book marketing and editing often reflects the assumption that British and American readers have different tastes. One of the most famous examples of a book being edited specifically for an American audience is ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ by J. K. Rowling which was published as ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ in the United States to be “more suggestive of magic” than its original title. Numerous other words in the main text were also changed so that Harry and his Hogwarts chums (sorry, friends) ate candy rather than sweets, studied for their exams instead of revising for them and went on vacation rather than holiday. Continue reading