Archive for October, 2009

#34– That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

October 19, 2009

First, understand that I love Richard Russo’s novels. He writes about small town life, twistedly human families, and the inner working of human relationships. That Old Cape Magic comes from the same mold.

Russo’s hero is a middle-aged teacher, trying to confront his parents’ failed marriage and deaths, his daughter’s coming of age and marriage, the breakdown of his own marriage, and his own mortality. The relationship between the hero and his parents and his in-laws is at the center of the novel. As is often the case, strong emotions get mixed and overlapped, and everything falls apart.

I don’t think this is Russo’s best work. I’d reserve that for “Empire Falls”, and frankly, I think I liked “Bridge of Sighs” better as a chronicle of middle-aged understanding. That said, I’ve never read any of his books that failed to resonante with me on some level, and Cape is no different. It’s worth reading, but if you haven’t read Russo, you might not want to start here.

Joe

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#33- Limitations by Scott Turow

October 19, 2009

I saw Scott Turow speak at the annual Kentucky Bar Convention and became very interested in this book from the short segment which was shared at that event. Fortunately, I saw it for $4 at Waldenbooks and picked up a copy.

Turow tells the story of an appellate judge who takes on a very interesting rape case. The case troubles him because it reminds him of something from his own life. The central issues is a statute of limitations question– essentially, how long after a person’s crime are they still subject to prosecution? In the meanwhile, the judge has acquired a stalker, who is moving closer and closer, and is trying to decide whether to retire or run for re-election.

Limitations is an interesting book and a very quick read. As the title implies, the central issue is human limitation. Who are judges to judge, and how can the rule of law, arbitrary though it is, serve the best ends possible. As a lawyer, I generally avoid reading about lawyers, but was not sorry to have picked this up. I would recommend this one.

Joe