Author: Hillary (Page 2 of 3)

Freaky Friday: ‘The Voyeur’s Motel’ by Gay Talese

voyeurs-motelBefore I just dive right into my thoughts on this book, let me share with you a piece from the cover flap of Gay Talese’s book The Voyeur’s Motel:

“On January 7, 1980, in the run-up to the publication of his landmark bestseller Thy Neighbor’s Wife, Gay Talese received an anonymous letter from a man in Colorado. “Since learning of your long awaited study of coast-to-coast sex in America,” the letter began, “I feel I have important information that I could contribute to its contents or to contents of a future book.”

This anonymous letter was written by Gerald Foos, a motel owner in Denver, Colorado. What Foos went on to explain to Talese was pretty astonishing: Foos had purchased this motel to satisfy his voyeuristic desires and had built an “observation platform” underneath the roof of his motel. He installed “vents” near the foot of the bed into motel rooms in order to watch and listen to his guests. Foos writes, “The advantageous placement of the vent will permit an excellent opportunity to viewing and also hearing discussions of the individual subjects.”

Gerald Foos kept journals for around 15 years (between 1960-1980) and included almost every detail that he found important or interesting. Yes, there is quite a bit of detailed information dealing with sexual encounters of Foos’s unknowing guests. But, Foos really seemed to think of himself as a researcher of American society and sexuality.

He gathered statistics on different matters, such as the effects of the Vietnam War on sexual relationships, or relationships in general. The motel was located near a type of “half-way house” for men who had just arrived back injured from Vietnam. There were a few occasions when Foos witnessed and recorded men who were either paralyzed or had lost a limb in the war, and that injury’s effects on their sexual encounters with either wives or lovers.

Foos recorded the effects of the desegregation of American society in these relationships, as well. He noted that, before the late 60s and early 70s, white women would wait in the car for their African American counterpart to just grab the keys, and would not go inside together. Later, both subjects would enter together and go to the front desk to check in.

I wish I could tell you more about some of the encounters Gerald Foos recorded in his journals…but I don’t think they are very appropriate for this blog. What I will say is that Gerald seemed to think that the movie Deep Throat had to do with the rise in his guests participating in one particular sex act and that men of the 1960s foos-filesweren’t great at sex, and could really care less if their wives were satisfied–gender roles at their finest.

The Voyeur’s Motel is an amazing work of narrative journalism which I could not put down. The majority of this book is from Foos’ actual journals and notes which were extremely fascinating. But….what a freak…right? Right? I can’t decide. Everyone is curious, but Gerald Foos took it to the extreme, and I thank him for it.

Endurance in the Delta: ‘Trials of the Earth’ by Mary Mann Hamilton

unnamed-6Mary Mann Hamilton was a remarkable women who was encouraged to write down her life as a female pioneer. Hamilton was born in 1866 and passed away in 1936. It was later in her life that she began to write down her experiences of “taming the American South”– she writes about living through floods, fires, tornadoes, and her husband’s drinking. An early draft of Trials of the Earth was submitted to a writers’ competition sponsored by Little, Brown in 1933, but, unfortunately, it was not chosen at the time. Now, eighty-three years later, Mary Mann Hamilton’s book is the only known first-hand account of a woman pioneering her way through the South.

Hamilton is a fierce woman that I found absolutely fascinating.
She starts her book off with the marriage to her husband, Frank, whom she only marries because he has promised to care for her younger siblings. She doesn’t know much about Frank, a mysterious Englishman, which is shown throughout the book, but they seem to get along well. Together, they start to run a logging camp where Hamilton alone cooks, morning and night, for an average of 70 men working for her husband. She does this while also raising her children, some of whom do not make it through the perils of pioneer life.

Hamilton at the logging camp

Hamilton at the logging camp

Hamilton spends the majority of her book writing about her time in the Mississippi Delta’s woods and marshlands, as well as the role she plays in clearing a path for future cotton farmers. Throughout this time in her life, she encounters a flood that completely washes away her home and the family’s logging camp, buries children, and deals with her husband’s secretive life and drinking problem.

Hamilton in her later years

Hamilton in her later years

As it says on the dust jacket: “The extreme hard work and tragedy Hamilton faced are eclipsed only by her emotional and physical strength; her unwavering faith in her husband… and her tenacious sense of adventure.”

For what small amount of education Hamilton had during her life, she has created a beautifully written book. I sat down to read ten pages before bed one night and ended up reading seventy. I couldn’t put it down.

‘Hot Little Hands’ by Abigail Ulman

Hot Little Hands is an awesome collection of short stories by Abigail Ulman. These stories span the lives of a few different adolescent girls and young women, ranging in age from thirteen to thirty. The lives of these women and girls are set in the US, the UK, Russia, and Australia. All of these stories are about girls trying to figure out how to navigate their way through life now that they are becoming an “adult,” whether this is in their teen years or late twenties. A lot of the stories deal with overcoming and understanding friendships, sex, innocence, love, shame, and attraction.

One story called “Warm Ups” is a complete gem and threw me for a loop. It still makes me shiver a little when I think of it. It is about a thirteen year old Russian gymnast who wants so badly to go to America to train for the Olympics. Her parents are hesitant at first, but finally give in and allow her to travel with her coach. Then…..you get that “oh, my God….holy shit. Wait, what?” moment at the end of the story. It’s perfect.

There is the right amount of seriousness and humor throughout this book, and I think most people are going to find a little bit of themselves in at least one of these stories/girls. These stories are going to take you back to those awkward years, those first boyfriend years, those years where you think you knew everything, and then you get into the years where you realize you’ve gotten older…..but you still don’t know what is going on in your life. Like, literally…you have no clue.

If you’re a fan of short-stories, dive right in to this one. It’s pretty sweet.

Lee Clay Johnson delivers a dark but compelling debut novel in ‘Nitro Mountain’

Lee Clay Johnson will be here tonight signing Nitro Mountain!

If you’re a fan of Ron Rash, Daniel Woodrell, or William Gay, this is a debut novel that was made just for you. This book is gritty, so much so that you can almost feel the grease and dirt from these character’s lives coming off the pages.

JacketThe setting is a mine-polluted corner of Virginia. We meet Leon, a broken-armed, lovesick bass player who moves from couch to couch trying to pull himself together. We meet Jennifer, Leon’s on-again, off-again girlfriend who is falling into a rough crowd with Arnett, a drug addict and dealer with a whole list of issues. All of these characters are constantly trying to hold on to any hope they can find within their broken down lives. Johnson takes these characters and gives them the humanity they deserve. Even though they make bad choices, you can’t help but hope that they’re going to pick themselves back up and keep going. This is a close up look into the underbelly of contemporary Appalachia, and Johnson does a great job pulling the reader into this raw, dark world.

Don’t just take my word for it.  Check out the praise that Nitro Mountain has been getting from the literary world, including a blurb from our very own Kelly :)!

“Daring . . . a worthy addition to the growing canon of contemporary Appalachian noir. . . . Johnson shows an incredible control of language. The narration is simple, but it enhances the world in which he plants us. . . . Nitro Mountain is like the home we failed to escape.” —Bradley Sides, Electric Lit

“Exquisitely stark and gritty . . . Raw, yet relentlessly compelling.” — Publishers Weekly

“Lee Clay Johnson has written a powerful, haunting debut novel. This book is dark and twisted, just the kind of book we southerners like…but it also has many moments of humor and heart, even if they are sometimes borne out of absurdity. ” — Kelly Pickerill, Lemuria Books

‘All Things Cease to Appear’ by Elizabeth Brundage

I’m a pretty big fan of psychological thrillers, and I thought that was exactly what I was getting myself into when I picked up Brundage’s new novel, All Things Cease to Appear. Don’t get me wrong, this book is definitely psychological, but a little less of a thriller and more literary than I expected.

The book revolves around two families, the Hales (three brothers) and the Clares (George and Catherine), both with their own tragedies. In the opening chapter of the book, we meet a man who has come home to find his wife murdered and his young daughter at home with the body. This man is George Clare, and he is frantic at this point. Brundage then takes us into the Hales’ devastating loss of their family home, dairy farm, and parents. This home, of course, will later become the Clares’ home and the murder scene.

AllThingsCeaseToAppearBrundage takes you to when the Clares first met, and you soon realize that their marriage is not what it appears to be; it’s mostly thrown together because of Catherine’s pregnancy. They begin to move into the auctioned off farm house and meet their neighbors and George’s colleagues. The Hale brothers, the former residents of the home, start to come around and help with upkeep, and the youngest will sometimes babysit Franny, the Clares’ three-year-old daughter. The story is told from multiple points of view, switching from Catherine to one of the Hale brothers and then back to George. Brundage gives quite a few of the Clares new acquaintances chapters throughout the book and shows their perspectives of George and his wife. Most of them see the couple as happy and put together, but some see straight through the lies. As you move through these multiple viewpoints, pieces begin to fall into place, and many people are not at all what you expected.

This is much more than an engrossing crime story; it’s the story of marriage, love, loss, and family. It’s the story of a woman who is trying to make the best of her unfortunate marriage. It’s the story of three young brothers trying to cope with the loss of everything they knew and loved. It’s the story of a man with a dark past and haunting soul, and it’s all written so beautifully that it makes this one a hard one to put down.

Good Girl, Plummie!

Okay. If you like illustrations and you like dogs….man, oh man, have I got a book for you!

As some of you may know, before I started working at Lemuria I was an adoption coordinator for a humane society. With that being said, I’m pretty into animals. Cats, dogs, rabbits, ferrets, whatever…I like them all.

JacketWhile I was working at the humane society, I was around about 150 animals every day. I currently have one dog, two cats, and one foster dog. So, right now I’m only around four a day. When I’m with my dog or cats, I’ll find myself wondering what they’re thinking about or trying to tell me (if that sounds weird….oh, well). BUT, don’t you fret; with Clark’s new book, Plumdog, I have the best look into a dog’s mind I could ever ask for.

Emma Chichester Clark is an illustrator and author located in London, England and has written and illustrated several children’s books. Clark has also created a blog (which has now been published in book form) that is all about her dog, Plum, who is a Whoosell (whippet, Jack Russell and poodle). Clark writes about Plum’s daily doings and illustrates them with her beautiful paintings. Basically, it is the most adorable, funny, and sweetest dog diary I’ve ever seen (or maybe even ever heard of).

Emma and Plum

Emma and Plum

If you’re wondering why your dog is rolling around in fox poop, Plum lets you know that it’s probably because it’s the best smelling perfume out there. Maybe you’re trying to figure out why your dog doesn’t give you back the ball you just threw for them. Again, Plum lets you know that once the ball is hers, it’s hers….no matter how 7744ecdc-6ab3-486a-85d4-75d04a7a5d11nicely you may ask for it back. That’s just how it is. Also, Plum would like for any and every dog owner to quit blaming their dogs for any rude noise or smell that occurs. It’s just simply not the dog….most of the time.

This book is perfectly illustrated and I laughed so many times while reading it. If you’re a lover of a good looking book and dogs, this book belongs to you. Come find me in Lemuria and we’ll just sneek into a nook in the store, sit on the floor and flip through this little gem.

Speaking of dogs, this is my foster pup “Audrey”. She is available for adoption with Jackson Friends of the Animal Shelter. She is spayed, up to date on shots, crate trained, and good with other dogs and cats.  Please let me know if you are interested in adopting!

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Falling Out of Reality

a671ed81-422b-4872-aa0e-0a8982a46530Eleanor was not what I expected.

When I read “Eleanor has been ripped out of time…” on the front cover of this novel, I expected there to be quite a bit of time travel; but that’s not quite what happened here. Turns out, it isn’t necessarily different times that Eleanor is traveling to; it is different realities. In fact, it is different people’s realities.

In 1985, Eleanor’s identical twin sister, Esmerelda, is torn from her life in a horrible accident. Esmerelda’s death pulls the family apart and Eleanor becomes a source of resentment to her own mother. Her parents separate and her mother begins to heavily rely on alcohol to help her get through the days she spends seeing her dead daughter’s face on Eleanor. Eleanor spends her days just trying to keep her mother alive.

The first time it happens, Eleanor is fourteen. She walks through a simple door at school, and vanishes. Again and again, against her will, she falls out of her reality and into other ones. Sometimes only an hour has gone by, sometimes days or even months have passed before she returns to her own reality. Again and again she leaves behind empty rooms and worried loved ones.

One day, Eleanor is removed from her world altogether and meets a stranger who reveals to her that the death of her sister is not the only grief that plagues her family. She realizes then that if she can harness her curious ability, she may be able to save and heal her family from generations of grief and pain.

This is a story I fully expected to be magical, yet I didn’t expect to be so raw and to dive beautifully into the depths of grief and depression. Author Jason Gurley does a great job of pulling you into worlds inside of worlds and takes you into someone’s reality who is grieving. I was so surprised by this book, and Gurley’s writing was delightful; I’ve never read a novel that really made me understand and experience grief like this book has. This is a story about the beauty of healing, and Gurley definitely made it beautiful.

Gifting the Perfect Book: Psychics, Home Owners With Super Old Houses, or Con-Artists

“You like ghost stories?”

JacketBecause it’s the week before Christmas, and Christmas is a crazy time around Lemuria, I’m going to keep this blog short and sweet; just like Gillian Flynn’s new 62 page book, The Grownup.  (Okay, maybe there’s not a lot of “sweet” to this book, but you get where I’m going with this).  Plus, if you’re as busy as we are at the moment and you know you don’t have a ton of time for reading, you can knock this book out in an hour.

If you’ve read any of Gillian Flynn’s other books; Gone Girl, Sharp Objects, or Dark Places (my personal favorite), then you’ll definitely want to pick this one up.  If you haven’t read any of her books, but have seen the movie Gone Girl, then I really recommend you read her work!  Flynn sticks to her crude, almost disgustingly haunting writing style with this one, so it sucks you right in.  It’s the story of a young women runaway-turned-psychic-turned-con-artist. She’s a weird mix of things, but in a great way. Through her psychic gig, she meets a lady who is having strange things occur in her newly renovated 19th century home. She sees this as an opportunity for a lot of cash in a short amount of time. However, in true Gillian Flynn fashion, there’s a strange twist thrown in that keeps you flipping through the pages.

I don’t want to say too much, because with the book being so short, it’s easy to give something away. But, with a question like this on the back of the book: “You like ghost stories?” I think we can both agree this is a fun, 62 page, thriller given to us by Flynn.

Devotion by Adam Makos

Adam Makos will be here TONIGHT at 5:00! We love this book so much that we’ve chosen it as our December pick for First Editions Club.

Let me start this blog off by saying this….

I don’t read non-fiction. Pretty much….never. Not at all. I can not sit down and read fact after fact about a topic; it just can’t hold my attention the way a fictional story can. I don’t like this, because I want to be able to learn about different things and I obviously have books at my fingertips to do so by working at Lemuria; but, non-fiction is just not my “go to”.

With all that being said…..Let me tell you about this non-fiction book that changed everything.

WFES804176583-2I’ve always been interested in World War I and World War II and the time period around those years. To be honest, I’ve just always been interested in the history of different wars (obviously more interested in those in which the U.S. were involved). I like watching movies based around war and there are times when I will watch documentaries as well. But, reading a history book wasn’t something I enjoyed.

However, I really feel as if Devotion has changed my outlook on reading about history. Devotion is an incredible story from military journalist, Adam Makos. As it’s stated on the cover, it’s “An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship and Sacrifice” between two Navy carrier pilots during the Korean war. One of which is a white New-Englander who comes from a country club background (Tom Hudner), while the other pilot is a share-cropper’s son from Mississippi (Jesse Brown) who became the first African-American Naval pilot. Basically, Jesse was fighting for a country that sometimes wouldn’t even serve him in a restaurant. However, he found much more than just a job in the Navy; he found men that stood by his side no matter what.

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Lieutenant Tom Hudner

Makos goes way beyond just slapping down facts on a piece of paper, he takes you into the intense lives of both Lieutenant Tom Hudner and Ensign Jesse Brown during their time in the Korean War by offering you a novel-like feel. He interviewed so many military veterans and used all of that information to make the stories flow together as one- so much so that it feels like you’re reading a novel rather than sectioned off facts about the war.

From what I understand, the Korean War is the Forgotten War, but Makos takes you right into the battlefield; from the Marines on the ground in trenches to Jesse and Tom overhead in their planes. I was definitely taken into the harsh conditions (temperatures as low as -35 degrees) when the Marines were near Chosin Resevoir; and there were moments when I felt like I was in the plane with Jesse or Tom trying to make split-second decisions. Makos included maps to help show the locations of each event, letters, and photos taken during this time as well as before (photos of marines and pilots with their wives, parents, siblings, etc). Having photos and being able to put faces on to the people being described made me become so involved in the story, that there were a few times while I was reading that I became slightly emotional.

Ensign Jesse L. Brown, first African-American Naval Aviator

Ensign Jesse L. Brown, first African-American Naval Aviator

Makos made me look at non-fiction in a whole new way. I was given facts and I was given true stories …and it was beautiful. This book was such a great way to take a look at history and to teach myself more about sacrifice, war, and one’s devotion to friendship. I feel like I’m going to have to keep sticking my nose in our history section from now on to see if I can learn a few more things.

Get to Know Hillary

treesHow long have you worked at Lemuria?  6 months….going on 7!

What do you do at Lemuria?  I sell books! Plus a lot of other things….Mostly, I like to keep things organized around the store. Currently, I tend to the Mystery section, the Popular Fiction section, the Fantasy/Horror Section, the Graphic Novels section, and soon I will also have the Gardening section. (I say soon, technically it is my section….but it’s a bit of a mess right now, so I don’t want to claim it just yet.) I’m also about to start handling/making all of the displays in our main room, which I’m really excited about.

Talk to us about what you’re reading right now. I’m currently reading Katy Simpson Smith’s new novel Free Men (out February 2016). I’m not too far into this one, but so far so good! Check it out once it’s released!

What’s currently on your bedside table (book purgatory)?

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I know it’s difficult, but give us your current top five books.

Room by Emma Donoghue (movie coming out in October!)

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

The Girl of Fire and Thorns Series (three in one!) by Rae Carson

Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Any particular genre that you’re especially in love with? No. And I don’t mean that in a harsh way. I think I’ve become known around the store as “Hillary, the girl who reads anything”. If I like it, I’m going to read it.

What did you do before you worked at Lemuria? Like….do you want me to start from birth? Or, like in the past year? I’ll just cover the past couple of years.  I graduated from Ole Miss with a degree in Psychology (cause, you know….why not?)

My husband still had a year left in Law School, so I worked as the adoption coordinator for the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society for about a year and a half. Learned a lot from that experienced, gained three animals from that experience, too. Spay and neuter your pets, people!

Then my husband landed a job in the Jackson area, so we packed up our things (and animals) and moved on in!

If you could share lasagna with any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you ask them? Kent Haruf, who recently passed away. I wouldn’t really ask him anything, I’d just like to let him know how much I really enjoyed his last, perfect book.

If Lemuria could have ANY pet (mythical or real), what do you think it should be? Real: About 4 cats. Mythical: Fully-clothed free House Elves that can get books down (with magic) from the top shelf for me.

If you had the ability to teleport, where would you go first? Probably Switzerland. I mean, have you seen the Alps?

I’ll leave you with this…Switzerland

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