My third-grade teacher had him on a poster in the classroom. I only knew what Weekly Reader told me about him; I liked to think of myself as a little EK: tough and brash and batty and out there. It was all in my head, of course, same as today. I am wimpy and mild and conventional and right here, but on the inside it's daredevil all the way.
Land of the Burnt Thigh by Edith Eudora Kohl
Pretty interesting first-hand account of women homesteaders in the early 20th century. I had read Ole Edvart Rolvaag's Giants in the Earth upon the recommendation of a woman I'd met at a sod house exhibit in South Dakota. It was magnificent! This was the other book she recommended and it's no great work of literature but it's a page-turner nonetheless.
Descent: The Heroic Discovery of the Abyss by Brad Matsen
I backed into this book. First I found at a yard sale Jacques Piccard's Seven Miles Down, which is about the invention of the untethered Trieste, an amazing tale of pluck, ingenuity and drive. Then I found Half Mile Down, by William Beebe. This is a pretty astounding story as well, of the first deep-water exploration ever. Then simonator showed up with this book one day. Descent covers the Beebe story along with the backstory and personalities. Maybe Matsen gets a little too Oprah here and there, but I don't mind a soupçon of gossip with my history and I enjoyed the book.
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
I hardly ever say this but: meh. This was like reading someone's creative writing assignment. It was ok, a nice setup and a good idea but I just couldn't believe the characters enough to care about them. Plus I had just finished a spate of Jasper Fforde and this suffered in comparison: Fowler is witty but never hilarious so I was all like, you know, meh.
The War Journal of Major Damon "Rocky" Gause (introduced by Stephen Ambrose)
I had a hard time believing that this was truly recorded as a journal during this guy's harrowing escape from the Philippines to Australia in 1942; however, it was a ripping yarn at worst.
Whale Season by N.M. Kelby
This was a goofy little thing. The cover blurbs compared it to Carl Hiaasen, but I think it's closer to Christopher Moore's stuff. It's set in a wacky Florida town, has an implausible plot and impossible characters. What's not to like?
Body Brokers: Inside America's Underground Trade in Human Remains by Annie Cheney
I enjoyed Mary Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, but this book was not as appealing. The author tried too hard to inject drama into what could have been a straight and very interesting report. The ethical issues were barely explored, the implication being that all decent folks (we readers) would agree with the author's feelings. It was briefer than I would have expected, too--for the three years of deep research extolled in the blurbs, I would like to have had more than an evening's read.