The Beginners by Rebecca Wolff (not sure when. I believe she was at Friends for Middle School). The Beginners has all the trappings of a witchy, ghostly Gothic tale. Ginger Pritt, the narrator and protagonist, is a bright 15-year-old living in Wick, a tiny New England town with roots that stretch back to Salem. The dominant image is submersion, which is what happened to two neighboring towns when a reservoir was created. Dunking also turns out to be a good test for outing witches. Ginger tells us she does not go in the water. Her coming of age is abetted by a glamourous and enigmatic couple, who settle in Wick, and seem hell-bent (evil and demons silently lurk) on awakening her dreamy sexuality. Much of the narration is mesmerizing; I even fancied I heard the feminized voice of Vincent Price reading Poe to me.
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.