Unwin(e)d with a book about family, food, and Evel Knievel

It’s hard to believe it’s almost November already.  The month of Thanksgiving holds a few constants for me and many others: namely, food and family. So, really, what better way is there to prepare for Thanksgiving than getting together to discuss a book about family and food?  And, of course, Evel Knievel. Because no Thanksgiving is complete without Evel Knievel, right?

Evel Knievel Days, the sophomore novel from Pauls Toutonghi follows 20-year-old Khosi Saqr the summer he discovers his father. Khosi is an obsessive-compulsive, semi-agoraphobic, half-Egyptian, half Irish-American museum guide living in Butte, Montana, hevel knievelome of Evel Knievel.  When gambling debts and loan sharks caught up with him, Khosi’s father fled Montana for Egypt, leaving Khosi’s mother a three-year-old son, and his family’s recipes.

Family is key in Khosi’s life. He disagrees with Tolstoy’s contention that unhappy families are each unhappy in their own way. “See: I think Tolstoy was wrong. Unhappy families are all alike. They’re all alike in this moment-in this pause before something happens, in the pause before someone reacts. And that pause: It can last seconds or minutes or days or months or years.” For Khosi, the pause has been life-long. He imagines that someday he will see the family tree in Egypt and perhaps have the chance to utter the word, “daddy,” but his lifelong estrangement from his father makes this unlikely.  He knew his mother’s parents, but they never accepted Khosi and his Egyptian heritage, even while he sat at their dining room table. Khosi’s closest relationship in his family, aside from his mother is the ghost of his great-great-grandfather, copper magnate William Andrews Clark who tags along to Egypt when Khosi decides it’s time to meet his father. So, in short, it’s a book about family, food, Evel Knievel, overcoming personal challenges, copper in its many forms, a copper baron’s legacy (and his ghost), and traveling to Egypt.

If you haven’t picked up your copy of Evel Knievel Days yet, you’ve still got plenty of time! There are print copies and eReaders with the book pre-loaded available at Dunbar Library. You can purchase a copy for 20% at the WSU Bookstore.

We had a great discussion at September’s meeting when we talked about The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma, and I’m looking forward to the discussion of Evel Knievel Days.

Come discuss this title with us at Unwin(e)d on Thursday, November 14 at 5:30 p.m. at Winan’s Fine Chocolates and Coffees. If you have any questions about the group, feel free to get in touch with me at mandy.shannon@wright.edu.  I hope to see you on the 14th!


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