The impetus for reading this book came from a trip to Eldon, Iowa, to visit the original house Grant Wood used as the background for his 1930 iconic painting American Gothic. If you haven’t been to The American Gothic House Visitor Center, I do recommend it. The story behind the painting and the subsequent parodies of it are fascinating and, best of all, visitors get to dress up in American Gothic garb and, holding pitchforks, stand in front of the house for a photo opportunity.
This was a “One Book One Bettendorf” title in celebration of the Library’s 60th anniversary on July 12, 2015. Along with several other activities, we gave away 300 books and recorded stories about Bettendorf and its citizens as well as the Library and its patrons. We hosted a book discussion in which we chose which story was our favorite. I liked two stories which were opposites of each other in that one featured a father who couldn’t or wouldn’t love and the other featured a father who had an abundance of love.
This was a terrific book to discuss on the July 4th weekend. I learned so much about the women behind the men: Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Eliza Pinckney, Deborah Read Franklin, Mercy Otis Warren, Sarah Livingston Jay, and many more. They weren’t just wives–they were also sisters, mothers, daughters, and mistresses. There were certain things that were universal about these women–they all exhibited a strong sense of duty. Under the prevailing 18th century system called couverture, the wives were also all “owned” by their husbands. And they could expect to be pregnant, nursing babies, or caring for sick family members most of their lives.
“The tragedy of modern Palestine was that one oppressed, thwarted people had come to settle among, and inevitably to displace, another oppressed, thwarted people. Since they didn’t find a way to live together, they lived separately until one was large and strong and determined enough to oppress the other. It is the nature of human society, at least human society in the Holy Land, that the bliss of one people dancing all night and racing horses into the sea at dawn would lead directly to the other people’s sorrow, bitterness, hatred, and revenge.”
Garbology: “the study of a community or culture by studying its waste”. Having been stuck for 24 hours in the Atlanta airport recently, my husband and I were on the verge of finally purchasing a cell phone. It’s so hard to find pay phones these days. But I was reading “Garbology” at the time and cell phones make up the biggest category of e-waste by far, so we’re still holding off and exercising our wits and powers of planning ahead instead. It’s more challenging every year.
Sam Blackman was a Chief Warrant Officer in the Criminal Investigation Detachment of the U.S. Military when he lost his leg in Iraq. He was moved from Washington, D.C., to a hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, because he was complaining too much about facilities and treatment. There he meets an ex-marine and fellow amputee who points him in a new direction–until she’s murdered.