Sunday, July 31, 2011

BW31 - D is for Donohue

A couple months back, Keith Donohue's publicist sent me an email asking if I wanted to review his latest novel Centuries of June.   She said:

Created out of myths drawn from all across America, the novel is both a murder mystery and ghost story that takes place entirely in the bathroom of an old house on one night in June, yet it covers five hundred years of American history. It is a tale with nine narrators: the victim and eight suspects, each of whom narrates her own story, explaining why she has a reason to bump off the protagonist. There’s an old man in a bathrobe who may or may not be the ghost of Samuel Beckett, and a baby who goes from newborn to toddler in the time it takes to tell the tale.

The story is a collage of styles—folklore, a shipwreck account, archives of historical documents, oral histories, the western, silent film, hard-boiled murder mystery, erotic fantasy, dreams, and allusions. Evocative and, at times, madcap, the novel has everything from flying feathers and dancing flappers to baseball and vaudeville, and has received four glowing trade reviews—two calling it a tour de force.

Of course, who wouldn't be intrigued by that.  I looked up the book on Amazon which fortunately and Yippie for me had the look inside feature so I could read the first few pages.   If the first pages, heck if the first paragraph doesn't grab my attention, then I know the rest of the book won't.  I started reading and kept reading and decided I wanted to read the book and accepted her offer.  So guess what's next on the nightstand?  

In an interview about the book, Donahue has said:

"The Novel is a kind of mash-up and I'd be happy enough if people read it as historical fiction or magical realism or a black comedy or a murder mystery or an existential ghost story.

Likewise, the inspiration for Centuries of June is a mash-up of ideas and images.  I knew I wanted to write about American myths and came across the painting of The Virgin by Gustav Klimt--which depicts a group of naked women resting in a clot beneath these wild and colorful quilts.  I began to think about what their stories might be and how those tales might be interwoven with this speculation on time, memory, and the American story.  In the actual writing, all sorts of other notions shoehorn their way into the book--from Bachelard's The Poetics of Space to the stateroom scene in the Marx Brothers' A Night at the Opera.  The novel becomes a mosaic, like the patterns in the Klimt painting."
Even more intriguing.   If you want to find out what other folks think about the story, check out the TLC Book Tour participants reactions.  I'll let you know what I think when I'm finished reading it. 

He's also written two other books that look equally intriguing:

Inspired by the W.B. Yeats poem that tempts a child from home to the waters and the wild, The Stolen Child is a modern fairy tale narrated by the child Henry Day and his double.

On a cold night in January, a stranger appears on the doorstep of Margaret Quinn, a widow living a solitary existence in a small Pennsylvania town.  A nine-year-old orphan named Norah, dressed in tatters, claims to have found a welcome there.  Margaret’s own daughter, Erica, ran away 10 years earlier, and the orphan appears at first to be an answer to a mother’s prayers. Margaret passes off Norah as her granddaughter and enrolls her in school, where Norah reveals to the other children her mysterious, unearthly powers.

Link to your most current read. Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you have multiple reviews, then type in (multi) after your name and link to your general blog url.

If you don't have a blog, tell us about the books you are reading in the comment section of this post.


  1. dang, I really don't need another title to add to my list....heading to amazon.....

    I finished One Summer by JoAnn Ross today.

  2. I have been a bad blogger and forgotten to post my last few books, so I put up the link to me 56BI52W page that lists all my books read and links to the reviews.... books 24 and 25 are the ones I forgot to post, and I just finished 26 today.

  3. Sorry that I posted twice. I did something wrong with my first link & it didn't work. :-( Can you delete the frist on, Robin?

  4. Hi Robin, I linked up my book 2/52 on Sunday, July 31 but forgotten to post a comment. Hope you don't mind.

  5. These sound dark but definitely intriguing. I have got to stop reading other book recommendations! I have so many I want to read now, I maybe 100 before I'm through. :-)

  6. @Book Dragon - Love JoAnn Ross

    @Jessica - Sounds good, thanks. Will check it out.

    @Sojourner - Took care of it. :)

    @Sophyta - Comments are optional :)
    No problem.

    @Leah - I know. My wishlist is overflowing.

  7. Oh, dear, that sounds too dark for me!

    Mind you, the book I linked this week is dark too, in a certain way, but it is also filled with light. It's amazing.

    Annie Kate

  8. Sounds interesting. I have SO many books on my "to read" list right now. So many books, so little time! :-) The book I read for this week was strictly a cotton candy for the brain type book. It was a nice break.

  9. sounds like they are not your run of mill books.


Thank you for your kind comments.