Book Shopping

Ted and I went in to Berkeley on Saturday afternoon, and stopped off at Cody’s books on 4th street. Cody’s is constantly changing, trying to stay in business in this world of Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. They closed their flagship store on Telegraph Ave a few years ago, which saddened me a great deal. I was born in Berkeley, and though we left before I was old enough to remember living there, all of our visits during my childhood seemed to make a stop at Cody’s. Then I became an adult, and again, most visits to Berkeley included a stop at Cody’s, one of the best bookstores around. But times change, and if you don’t change with the times, you’ll go under. So Cody’s on Telegraph shut down, and the one on 4th street is also closing down. (4th street is a trendy, über expensive neighborhood in Berkeley, where it’s hard to find any homeless people, and easy to find gourmet cheese shops and yuppies.) They’re moving over to University Ave, closer to the University, and a much less chi-chi neighborhood. Because they’re moving, they were having a huge sale, 40% off of everything in the store. Remembering our space limitations in our current condo lifestyle, and considering that the collection had been picked over pretty well, I only bought 2 books for myself. The were:

The Solace of Leaving Early, by Haven Kimmel. I’ve never heard of this book or this author, but I thought I’d give it a try. Here’s what the back of the book says:

Using small-town life as a springboard to explore the loftiest of ideas, Haven Kimmel’s irresistibly smart and generous first novel is at once a romance and a haunting meditation on grief and faith. Langston Braverman returns to Haddington, IN (pop. 3,062) after walking out on an academic career that has equipped her for little but lording it over other people. Amos Townsend is trying to minister to a congregation that would prefer simple affirmations to his esoteric brand of theology.

What draws these difficult – if not impossible – people together are two wounded little girls who call themselves Immaculata and Epiphany. They are the daughters of Langston’s childhood friend and the witness to her murder. And their need for love is so urgent that neither Langston nor Amos can resist it, though they do their best to resist each other. Deftly walking the tightrope between comedy and tragedy, The Solace of Leaving Early is a joyous story about finding one’s better self through accepting the shortcomings of others.

Fortunate Son, by Walter Mosley. I’ve read a few of Mosley’s Easy Rawlins mysteries, but I’m easily bored by mysteries, and didn’t stick with the series…though I thoroughly enjoyed all of the books that I read. So I thought I might try this novel out, since it isn’t a mystery. Here’s what the back of the book says:

In this powerful tale of resilience and redemption, two unlikely brothers torn apart by fate forge their separate ways in the world. Tommy, a delicate black boy, is cursed with health problems and drawn to trouble more often than not. Eric is a Nordic Adonis, graced by a seemingly endless supply of good fortune. The ties that bind the two boys, however, are thicker than blood, and when circumstances reunite Eric and Tommy after years apart, their distinct approaches to life may offer protection from the forces that threaten to destroy them.

Has anyone read either of these two novels? Good things to say? Bad? I’m looking forward to reading them both. 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Book Shopping

  1. I haven’t read Haven’s novel, but I loved her two memoirs, Zippy and She Got Up Off the Couch. I highly recommend them both. Each of them, oddly enough, use a small town as a springboard to explore lofty ideas. The first is a coming of age memoir and the second (even better) one examines her mother’s metamorphosis from depressed underachiever into a woman of her times. Good reading!

  2. Haven Kimmel is the BOMB! She wrote that book called “A Girl Named Zippy”. She has a real facility with the language and I always look forward to her books.

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