• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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How Can You Just Leave Me Standing

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So it looks like The Bridge Ladies haven’t made any TOP TEN lists. Godfuckingdamnit. Please don’t tell me it’s all subjective. Please don’t tell me it doesn’t matter. Please don’t say that these lists are all complete and total crap. I love lists. I love rankings. When I was a third grader in Hebrew school, the teacher put little gold, silver, and blue stars next to our names for accomplishing certain tasks. The were glue-y on the back and I coveted them. One day, I was in the local stationery store and found a box of the same stars. I forewent my Archie’s and bought the box. The following Sunday, before anyone arrived, I pasted five or six gold stars next to my name.

What are your top ten books of 2016?

11 Responses

  1. “Godfuckingdamnit.” Only you can say that and it sounds a certain way in my head – and I’ve never heard your voice.

    Honestly, if you saw one list and you saw them all. It’s like everyone chooses the same books – with maybe only one variation or two.

    Ya know, that’s a dangerous question you ask though. What if Bridge Ladies doesn’t make our own top ten? Will you believe me if I say, I have it – and haven’t read it yet? I gave my MIL a copy too – she said she loved it – she plays bridge, and is of that same era as your mother. My MIL gets her nails done once a week and if she wears tennis shoes, they match her “outfit.” Me, I’m running around in flip flops, and when I go out, I slap a hat on my head and hope I don’t run into anyone I know.

    Top five – I can’t do a top ten, although I read about 20. Some of those were truly a slog, while others were meh. Why did I read them? I’m not sure – I “thought” they were going to be good?

    Winter’s Bone, Daniell Woodrell
    Bettyville, George Hodgman (I’m not kidding! I loved this book)
    Where All Light Tends To Go, David Joy
    One Foot In Eden, Ron Rash
    Over The Plain Houses, Julia Franks

  2. “Bridge Ladies,” of course, especially since we had the exact same mother. As did my blood sister, to whom I sent it. I think it is with my other sister now. Ten is way more than I can remember but I did wade through the Neapolitan quartet, though I’m not sure why I went beyond the first one. Also, “Housekeeping” on your recommendation, “News of the World” by Paulette Giles (loved it!), and “The Orchardist,” perhaps the saddest but truly lovely. As my mother, no it was my father, used to say, “De gustibus non disputandum est.” P.S. We used to say, “San Francisco Police Department” in lieu of the alphabetical swear word equivalent.
    Oops … forgot “The Cookbook Collector.”

  3. I don’t usually read books as they come out, so my list is years and even decades behind the times, though there are a few of this year’s titles on it. Yours is there, of course. The other nine:

    The Nix
    My Name is Lucy Barton
    You
    Rebecca
    The Corrections
    The Big Short
    Medium Raw
    But What if We’re Wrong?
    Too Big to Fail

    I’m addicted to audio books, which is how I consumed almost all of these. There are so many wonderful reading performances these days. Anthony Bourdain’s was terrific, and right now I’m listening to Thandie Newton’s reading of Jane Eyre. So good.

    • OMG! Rebecca I loved that book! The old movie version is excellent , too. Same is true for Jane Eyre. I saw Charlotte Bronte’s diaries in NYC a few yesrs ago – pages of teeny, tiny writing. You’ve inspired me to read these books again. Enjoy!

  4. Betsy, I’ll bet The Bridge Ladies is the best book you wrote this year—correct me if I’m wrong—and that’s saying something. The best book I wrote this year is nonexistent, because I didn’t write any books this year. (I wrote a bunch of other stuff, though.) Anyone who completed and/or published a book this year has something to be proud of. Congratulations to all of you!

  5. As with Averil, I usually don’t read books as they come out. Here follows the list of the ten I most appreciated of those I read this year, in chronological order:

    “The Guns at Last Light,” Atkinson
    “The Undoing,” Dean
    “Rambler American,” Rice
    “Armageddon,” Hastings
    “The Coldest Winter,” Halberstam
    “The Gulag Archipelago, Parts I & II,” Solzhenitsyn (trans. Whitney)
    “The Things They Carried,” O’Brien
    “Preparation for the Next Life,” Lish
    “The Golden Bough,” Frazer
    “Pride and Prejudice,” Austen

    • Tetman, i loved THE THINGS THEY CARRIED and read it 3 times in a row. i don’t know what it is? fiction? non-fiction? a magical mix of the 2?

      • “By telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others.” – Tim O’Brien, “Notes”

        “The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head.” – Tim O’Brien, “The Lives of the Dead”

  6. NW by Zadie Smith
    OPEN by Lisa Moore (shorts)
    WHEN WE WERE ORPHANS by Kazuo Ishiguro
    PATHOLOGIES by Susan Olding (essays)
    WHEN MY BROTHER WAS AN AZTEC by Natalie Diaz (poetry)
    THE LESSER BLESSED by Richard van Camp (novella)
    CRETACEA & OTHER STORIES FROM THE BADLAND by Martin West (shorts)
    DOUBLE DUTCH by Laura Trunkey (shorts)
    THE THINGS THEY CARRIED by Tim O’Brian (hybrid)
    GO-GO DANCING FOR ELVIS by Leslie Greentree (poetry)

  7. I read fewer books this year than I have ever read in a single year of my life. I found myself so distracted by personal issues–and especially by worldly/political ones–that I had a hard time concentrating even on the best of writing.

    I’m not sure I finished reading ten entire books, let alone could pick ten favorites. The fact that I quickly devoured your book–and LOVED it–is something to be said in itself. I thank you for that.

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