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COMMUNITY VOICE

Good weather for reading; try Meacham's 'Jefferson' or Foer's 'Extremely loud'

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 12:01 am

It’s been good reading weather, and there have been some good ones to read, so let’s talk books for a bit.

Number one on the list is Jon Meacham’s very comprehensive “Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power,” a biography of one of our favorite American historical figures.

It is long, it is complete, it becomes fascinating reading. Once I got past the poem Tom wrote when he was 6 and the poem he wrote at age 7 and another composed when he was 8 — well, you get the point. The author stresses very early what a remarkable mind our hero had.

Actually, that was just one gift. He loved beauty and helped create it. He was a philosopher, a politician, a diplomat and complex. He wrote magnificently; just reread the Declaration of Independence. It is the work of a genius.

We owe our way of government to him. When the nation was very young, there were men with equal power who doubted that a republic could ever work and that what was needed was a form of monarchy. Jefferson believed in us. He faced tremendous opposition, but he prevailed. He had the foresight to send Lewis and Clark on their expedition, and he had the courage to make the Louisiana Purchase. He created a university and kept working on his home, Monticello, which became a breathtaking beauty. His affection for things French and his visits to France enriched his life and that of contemporaries.

There are those today who call Jefferson a hypocrite because of his attachment to Sally Hemings and his having slaves. Jefferson was a human being — and who among us has no flaws? But, probably more than any other person, he was the keeper of the flame of the American dream. He was a passionate political leader who lived in a fascinating period of time — and his influence on our way of life is extraordinary. Read the book.

So then I needed something light and fun, and I turned to Janet Evanovich. Her “Wicked Appetite” is silly but fun. It’s a very quick read.

Then, realizing that Jonathan Safran Foer will be in Fort Wayne on Monday as this year’s lecturer for the People of the Book series, and because I had not read any of his very popular writing, I selected “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”

I really liked the youngster who is the protagonist, and his story made the World Trade Center horror story a personal experience: His very-much-loved father is a victim. The characters are well-delineated and plausible.

Foer’s book “Everything Is Illuminated” has already been made into a movie, I’m told, but though I started the book, I can’t comment yet; not enough pages covered: I put it aside for a while. The reason is that so many of you have mentioned Jodi Picoult and she seems to always be on the best-seller list that I decided to read one of her works.

The librarian chose “Salem Falls” for my introduction to Jodi. It was a good choice. I’m about a third of the way into it and find I’m smiling and enjoying — so right now I’m indebted to you for introducing me to Ms. Picoult. Thanks!

More anon.

Betty E. Stein is a retired teacher.