I rarely sit down and read a book all at once, so when I finished this at 11AM having begun at 7, I knew it deserved mention. Clegg provides the reader with the kernel of a story, then introduces eleven voices with which to weave it all together. It makes for compulsive reading, as you plait one over the other and a lovely novel emerges.
Oh, Dr. Sacks, why did I wait so long to read your work?! You delight me. Your writing inspires me, stimulates my intellectual curiosity, and fills me with admiration and joy. Best, my responses are not limited to the external, but turned within, kindling a compassion for myself that mirrors your for yourself, for my loved ones as you for yours. I believe that your work - in both science and the humanities - qualifies you as a secular saint. Bravo and AMEN.
Dyer's book of short essays about life on a US Navy aircraft carrier is informative and funny. He's an irreverent Brit with a thing for fighter jets, so naturally, a carrier, with its five thousand busy inhabitants, is a wealthy source of material: military jargon, military hierarchy, military food... and god, those smart, sexy pilots and their even sexier planes. *swoon*
I could NOT shut up about this book while I was reading it (my children will attest) because I found it at once so informative and so very lovely. I never thought there could be poetry in radio beacons, existentialism in jet-lag, or beauty in cock-pit waste-bins, but Vanhoenacker deftly and eloquently expresses all these things and more. You, too, will be transfixed.
Harrowing, but exquisitely so, A Little Life is anything but - little, that is. Readers of books like The Goldfinch and Freedom will certainly appreciate this very intricately- and sensitively-drawn character study.
Re-read it now in preparation for the big release of Lee's Go Set a Watchman on July 14.
I resisted this book of essays (by a woman whose life is just too close to my own fantasy for comfort) until it was the only book on ausio I had that interested me. I took it on the road and listened so intently, with such an interest in the insights Ms. Patchett has gleaned from her life, that the hours just drifted by in a thought-packed fog. I drove a lot that week, but not enough to finish listening, so I took home the hardcover so I could savor what remained and have it on my shelf for keeps. Ann Patchett may not yet have written The Great American Novel (though all 7 have been pretty darn good), nor won the Pulitzer, but if had to write a shortlist of our greatest living writers, she's near the top.
If you liked Blood, Bones & Butter, you'll eat up this memoir by Marcus Samuelsson, fmr. exec. chef of New York's acclaimed Scandinavian restaurant, Aqavit. Orphaned as a child in Ethiopia, adopted by Swedes, and trained in Switzerland and France, Samuelsson is a child of the world. And while Yes, Chef tells the reader much about the kitchens he has worked in, it is mainly a very powerful account of one young man's personal and professional maturation.
Nora Eldridge is 42 years old, single, and pissed. She tells us that in the first pages. It's not until the very final pages that we learn why, but by then, we've likely forgotten how angry she told us she was in the first place. And that is Messud's brilliance: her ability to sink us into the lives of her characters so completely that, like in real life, we forget what we're told until we learn it the hard way, ourselves. The Woman Upstairs is rich with passion, wanting, and betrayal. I was consumed - and stunned. Just like Nora.
Hillary Jordan delivers a spectacular sophomore effort with When She Woke. It's nothing at all like her first, Mudbound, save for the fabulous writing. In a manner reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Jordan spins a modern version of The Scarlet Letter, in which a young woman, pregnant by her minister, has an abortion, and is 'melachromed' in lieu of imprisonment. "When she woke, she was red." Stunning and scary, considering the current political trends in America...
What's it like, as an artsy liberal, to marry an Army helicopter pilot? How do you adapt to conservative military culture? Then what's it like when he is killed and you have to find your way back to where you came from without betraying your relationship, the love you shared in spite of your differences? Henderson's account of her tragically brief marriage to a man from another world is lovely and honest and harrowing, a deeply moving memoir.
What a thought-provoking roller-coaster of philosophy, human emotion, and history this book is! That the author is a Zen Buddhist nun is apparent throughout in the wise observations of being, yet the novel is shot through with streaks of contempoarary humor and timeless horror. An irreverent modernity results. Bonus: a great illustration of Schrodinger's theory of quantum physics!
The characters of this ambitious debut novel by Middlebury College alum Eleanor Henderson move back and forth between gritty "Lintonburgh, VT" (read: Burlington) and socio-economically diverse neighborhoods of NYC, c. 1987. Their wildly different worlds interconnect through education, music, religion & drugs in an updated twist on 70's counter-culture. Familiar & alien, clean & intoxicated, penniless & privleged - Ten Thousand Saints is a study in many contrasts, and a good, solid read. Henderson has a bright future in fiction.
I couldn't put down this novel about a young woman recruited to be an agent for the British Special Operations Executie, a secret organization tasked with destruction behind enemy lines. Mawer brilliantly weaves an unfamiliar bit of WWII history into a suspenseful war story, itself shot through with romance and intrigue. Not my usual genre, but very well received.
Before she became famous for writing WILD, Strayed was the anonymous advice co
To compare this book to the movies Groundhog Day or Sliding Doors would be to do it an injustice, but it's hard to resist. Suffice it to say that Atkinson takes the "What if" trope to a whole new level with her brilliant story of one British woman's life, 1910-1967. Atkinson, a Scot known best for her detective novels, performs monumental feats of fiction in telling - and retelling, and retelling - Ursula's story(ies). And doesn't fall once. This may be the best book I've read in years.