Second Growth by Joan L. Cannon ’46. Serge Dziminowitcz, the protagonist of this novel has much to overcome in his quest to become a caring and fully realized human being. His abusive, con artist father plagued his childhood and returns when Serge is an adult to torpedo his budding career as a doctor and his marriage to a socialite. Second growth, the fertile flourishing of forests after they have been cut down, is the metaphor for his new life as a country doctor in Vermont. Second Growth is the story of a man’s struggle to understand what is valuable. I was sad to learn that Joan Cannon died in 2017, and look forward to reading some of her other works.
Nov 23, 2019
Murder at the Columbarium by Emily Gallo ’67. This is the third novel of Emily’s I have read with Jonestown survivor Jed as the protagonist. Having found a way to go forward as caretaker for this facility for cremains, Jed has also maintained a network of friends and a committed partner, Monica. A character of great empathy, Jed found in the past that rocking crack babies calmed both the babies and himself as he struggled to keep his past from overwhelming him. Now he finds himself in the midst of a murder mystery. After coming upon the body of a young woman wearing a hijab on the grounds of the Columbarium, he is startled to also find with her a healthy baby. Clues lead to a pot farm, international drug traffic, and some harsh Pakistani customs. The plot is well-paced and keeps the reader guessing as the facts unfold. Malcolm, whom I first met in Venice Beach, comes back to play an important role, and Jed’s baby rocking skills come in handy. Though a brutal murder is at the center of the story, the book provides a heartfelt, humanizing look at those often marginalized by society: the trans, the HIV positive, the poor, and even the skinhead.