Reviews by Interim Librarian Beth Royer
First Time Ever by Peggy Seeger
A memoir by Pete Seeger’s kid sister, Peggy Seeger, a folk singer in her own right, intrigued me from the beginning because she’s from a famous musical family. Her mother, Ruth Crawford Seeger, was a composer and a character in her own right as well. The First Time Ever takes us from Peggy’s childhood in the greater DC area, where none other than Elizabeth Cotton was a housekeeper, to her adulthood in England (and later Asheville, North Carolina), where she played banjo and gigged around the continent of Europe. She fell in love with a married man and well-known folksinger Ewan MacColl, and broke up his marriage to his first wife. (I have to confess I found her callousness in this matter sort of appalling, but it is a testament to her interesting life that I stuck with the book!) She and MacColl ended up having three children together while working in a variety of musical acts and collecting traditional songs of the British Isles. The book is named for the only song that ever really earned MacColl any money, The First Time (Ever I Saw your face) which Roberta Flack covered most famously. It’s a wild life she’s lead, and just before the death of MacColl, who was 20 years her senior, she falls in love with a female friend but never tells MacColl. It is indeed an interesting life she’s lived. The book was chatty and full of interesting stories from a life full of adventures and misadventures.
Tough Luck by Todd Boss
I would be remiss in celebrating April, known to fans of poetry as NATIONAL POETRY MONTH without reviewing one of the many awesome poetry books we have in the collection. Tough Luck by Todd Boss is the kind of narrative poetry I love, rich in things and visual description, and not so mystical as to be impenetrable. The longest poem in this book is a meditation on the collapse of the 35W Bridge in Minneapolis, and it separates two sections of shorter poems and provides a fractured spine for the juicy meat of the book.
The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen by ?
The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, a bestseller in Holland, is the “secret” diary of an 83 year old man in a retirement home in Amsterdam, providing a daily diary of his experiences. It’s so rare to find stories told from the point of view of the elderly in fiction and Groen, who is both funny and honest, is a fun character to spend time with. The book is a reminder of our shared need for excitement and the sometimes stifling conditions imposed on the elderly, even in countries with notoriously excellent public elder care. Whether he’s adventuring on his mobility scooter or founding the Old But Not Dead Club, Hendrik is the kind of narrator who is hilarious and conspiratorial, so his diary is fun to read. Adding to the secrecy, no one knows who the author of this book actually is!
The Inner Life of Cats by Thomas McNamee
Featuring a compelling image of an intense feline on the cover and purports to provide the reader with the science and secrets of our feline companions. McNamee is a nature writer, so he brings a special attention and elegance to our cat friends. It was a black cat named Augusta who, by being adopted, led McNamee to become curious about feline behavior. Thanks to Augusta, we have a well-researched and insightful window into the world of our cat companions.