Maud’s Line by Margaret Verble

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This is a debut by the author who is  a member of the Cherokee Tribe, a small number who can trace their origins to survivors of the famous or infamous Trail of Tears. It is the poignant and sometimes raw story of a young native American girl struggling with life in the Arkansas Bottoms which were ceded to “Indians” instead of reservations . These lands provided a very meagre hand-to-mouth day-to-day struggle to subsist and while many of them realised land was “gold” others allowed themselves to be cheated out of their holdings and sold to oil companies .The book is bleak  and it shows the decline of the Native lore and language because of the encroachments of civilization . Ironically it was the promise of this affluence not the austerity of  the indian wars which marked the decline of the native American culture. Maud is neither one thing or another, she is an enigma, she can read she likes to read and yearns for more, but everything has a price.
I found this a compelling read so simply written,very like Winters Bone by Daniel Woodrell.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett

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Adam Haslett’s debut novel, after his Pulitzer Prize nominated collection of short stories You are not a stranger here, was published in 2010. It tells the story of Doug Fanning; a former soldier in the Iraqi war, he is now a senior executive at a bank named Union Atlantic. Due to a serious of somewhat shady financial maneuvers, Doug had made Union Atlantic extremely successful. He is handsome, driven,  wealthy although having grown up poor with an alcoholic mother he secretly abhors the wealthy people he works for and of which he has become.

The book settles on a battle of two houses between Doug who has built a McMansion on land previously owned by the family of Charlotte Grieves. Charlotte is an old eccentric former teacher from a true blood New England family. She despises this new greedy corporate America of which Doug epitomises. She decided that she alone will wage war against Doug and all that he stands for. There are a number of smaller plot lines running through the novel. But ultimately it is about how society has changed in America. Where morality fits in with greed and what is it that we value.

Haslett pitches this battle extremely well. He is a superb writer and made me thoroughly enjoy a novel that deals with venture capitalism. Not merely that but he made it make sense to me! I loved the battle and the stubbornness. There is a depth to this novel that makes it so much more than a war of corporate greedy America versus old values America.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.