Island Breeze July 2011
Buxton Village Books owner, Gee Gee puts in her two cents on summer reads.
Hi, My name is Gee Gee and I'm addicted to reading. And the truth is I don't really want to do anything about this problem. No I've never gotten arrested for driving while reading. I do have a friend who crashed her car when she looked down to change discs for her audio book. Slammed right into the car that was stopped in front of her. I guess that could count. I have been late for appointments because I lingered to finish that last page. I do ignore those I love while I read. I do read first thing in the morning. (Who doesn't read the back of the cereal box?) So sue me. I'm a word junkie. I mainline stories and yes I get high on them. I can't think of much of anything that makes me feel more satisfied than a truly well written piece of Southern Fiction. I also sell the stuff to feed my habit. To put it in a better light, I own an independent bookstore. Selling books is my career and it pays the mortgage. But that may just be rationalization and denial at work. It certainly isn't one of the more lucrative jobs on the market. Satisfying and worthwhile, yes. But you won't find bookselling on the Fortune 500 list. But I can't imagine doing anything else. Even in this era of sweeping and rapid changes in the world of books. I'll even admit to reading electronically. Not on a Kindle. Those belong to Amazon and while I acknowledge that they are genius at what they do I won't buy their machine until they let me as an independent bookseller sell to it. I can and do sell Ebooks to every other device though so currently I read on my laptop and am looking into smaller more mobile devices. Do you still doubt that I'm a reading junkie? Funny story then. I read in the bathtub every night. Yes, every night. No matter what time I get home. Midnight, reading. Two am, reading. So one night I'm home early and luxuriating in the tub with a book. There are stacks of books around the perimeter of my tub. Not always stable piles either. This night I had forgotten to feed my cat (neglecting those we love to pursue the fix...) He jumps up onto the side of the tub to get my attention and lands smack on a pile of not balanced books. Cat and books tumble into the water. Now, mind you my tub isn't some wimpy little shallow thing. It's 3 feet deep and holds most of a 50 gallon hot water heater. I do love my cat. Believe me. But my first, automatic reaction is to grab for the books. The cat is dog padding around the tub while I'm snatching wet books. I'm not proud of that story but I think it illustrates the depth of my problem. My current drug of choice is broad. I'm totally hooked on stories set at thebeach. Any beach. I can't get enough. Thankfully there are a lot of them out there. Here are just a few I've sampled so far.
*Here’s a footnote for those of you who like more reality in your vacation entertainment. TheDVD of the Pea Island Lifesaving Station story is now available. It’s called ”Rescue Men” and it’s a film by Allan R Smith. Smith collaborated with the authors of the book “Fire on the Beach”, David Wright and David Zoby to produce this fantastic documentary. If you’re not familiar with the Pea Island story, it’s the Lifesaving station that was located on Pea Island and had the only all black crew in the Lifesaving service. The crew members were perhaps best known for their heroic rescue in 1896 of the three-masted schooner E.S. Newman. The bravery of Captain Richard Etheridge, a former slave, and his crew went unrecognized until 1996 when the Coast Guard posthumously awarded the crew the Gold Life-Saving Medal. There is also a children’s book, “StormWarriors” by Elisa Carbone that tells the same exciting story.
Pulling the title from Moby Dick, Parker takes us on an historical journey offshore of Nags Head and winds his way back to land many generations later. Based on local history but acknowledging local lore, here is the story of Aaron Burr’s daughter Theodosia who was lost at sea during a storm off Nag’s Head. Written with an elegant prose Parker meditates on the nature of the sometimes inexplicable human connection to this often harsh coastal climate that is the Outer Banks, a place defined by water. Love of the land is strong in this story as well as the particular bond that grows when folks live in an isolated place and must depend on one another.
Frank writes of the South Carolina Low Country as if it were a world unto itself. And in many ways it is. With its pristine beaches, generations of family history and famous mango sunsets, Folly Beach holds the hopes and dreams of all who call it home either for a summer or a lifetime. No one does strong women and the damp hot south better than Benton Frank and here we get the best of her storytelling. Complete with family dysfunction, a life disrupted by financial ruin and marital betrayal this is vintage southern fiction at its best. Also by Frank “Low Country Summer’, “Plantation”, “Sullivan’s Island”, Full of Grace”.
Hidlerbrand does a fabulous job of evoking the island of Nantucket and the folks who live there, both the year rounders and the summer residents. Two estranged friends spend the summer at a house on the island trying to repair the things that have broken in their lives over the past years. It seems that, at least in this salt laden environment, money does not buy happiness or protection from the trials of life.
Other titles to try by Hilderbrand that are set on Nantucket are “The Island”, “The Castaways”, “Blue Bistro” and “Summer People”.
Set in the beach community of Folly Beach, SC, this clever books tells us the native southern folklore of the bottle tree and introduces us to a complex but supportive family of women, not all of whom are related by blood. Romantic angst, addiction and career changes all figure into this plot. White always writes a page turner that makes you feel like you know the characters and sympathize with them by the time you’ve turned the last page. Other titles by Karen White include “The House on Tradd Street”, “Pieces of the Heart”, and “Memory of Water”.
Graceful prose and keen observations on the quirks of relationships make Schmidt’s newest book a terrific read. Set on the beach at Cape Cod, Charlotte Tradescome’s much older husband Henry inherits the family summer home. Charlotte decides moving to the Cape and restoring the house is just what her small family needs what with her contrary and older husband and their rambunctious toddler daughter. Henry has not been in the house for years having been estranged from his family and he goes along with the plan simply out of marital inertia. An interesting twist to the “move to the beach” story comes when Charlotte sells off a bit of oceanfront to finance their retirement and the remodel. The divide between the come here’s and locals widens and Charlotte’s dream begins to crumble.
If you liked Anne Rivers Siddons “Outer Banks” or Lee Smiths “Last Girls” this is the book for your beach bag. It’s the story of four women who went to college together back in the 1980’s and now reunite at a beach cottage in “Whale Head”, NC.
Al tells me this book came about because he simply had spent too much time on piers not to write about them! Piers are landmarks of coastal resort towns and figure strong in the vacation memories of many. Chock full of wonderful old photos and brimming with the history of pier fishing, anyone who has strolled down the hot, splintery length of one of these piers on a summer day will cherish this volume.