Monday, January 26, 2009

And So It Begins...

Hi, everyone,

This is my first official post on the Odyssey's new blog, or should I say, new blog to me? I used to post on our Myspace page a bit, but as things got crazier and crazier with our Stephen King event last fall, I found little time to read let alone post anything.

So, new year, new blog and I'll do my best to keep up with it.

For those of you new to the store and/or to our blog, my name is Emily Russo Murtagh and I am the events coordinator here at the Odyssey, a job I started a little over a year ago after working in New York City for five years in agenting.

What should you know about me? I adore fiction. I LOVE fiction. Unfortunately, that means I don't read much non-fiction. I am, however, going to make a conscious effort to read more of it in the coming year. In fact, I recently finished Carolyn Jessop's memoir, Escape, which is probably one of the more difficult books (in terms of subject matter) that I've read in quite a long time. I wouldn't say it's the most well-written memoir I've read, but it's certainly one of the most powerful. Carolyn, at the age of 18, was married off to one of the most powerful men in the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints. She had 8 children in12 years and as her religious sect grew more and more outrageous, (dogs were rounded up and killed when the cult's leader decided they were no longer allowed), Carolyn started to plot her escape. Readers may remember that back in April of 2008, 52 children were removed from a rural Texas ranch on allegations of child abuse (click here for more info). Well, Carolyn's husband helped run that compound. Her "step-children," kids she helped raise from birth, are still in there. It's astonishing, and this woman's courage simply cannot be measured.

I'm also in the middle of Jonathan Harr's A Civil Action, a classic I never got around to.

Fiction favorites for 2008 were David Wroblewski's The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, Ron Rash's Serena, and Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In fact, the sequel just landed on my desk today (and by landed I mean I forcibly tore the book out of my co-worker Emily's hands), so I hope to be able to blog about that soon.

Coming out in April is a wonderful new novel by Thrity Umrigar, The Weight of Heaven, which I just finished this weekend. I haven't been so "sucker-punched" since The Kite Runner. The book takes place in modern-day India and follows the lives of Frank and Ellie Benton, two Americans who leave the U.S. in order to recover from the trauma of losing their only son to illness. Only things don't go quite as planned, and when Frank begins tutoring their housekeepers' only son, he grows attached to him in a way he never could have anticipated. Couple that with the local workers' strikes, cultural misunderstandings, and unrelenting grief, and it makes for an ending that will stick with you long after you put the book down. I'm sure you'll be hearing more from Emily Crowe on this, as well. It's one of her favorite books of Spring season, thus far.

Also on the nightstand: T.C. Boyle's upcoming novel on Frank Lloyd Wright, The Women; Reif Larsen's The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet; Paulette Jiles' The Color of Lightning; and Nafisa Haji's The Writing on My Forehead. All of these titles are coming out later this Spring and I will do my best to update you on these selections as soon as possible.

Yours, awaiting text book rush,
Emily RM

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