Regrettably, much time has passed since the last post. I aim to remedy that.
Let’s start with some bits of news, then segue into fun places to stop at, and end with some recommendations for May.
First, as promised, here is the shortlist for the Orange Prize. Really interesting choices. Some big names, some less big. Any favorites? I wasn’t a big fan of The Tiger’s Wife( I know, I am squarely in the minority), or Great House for that matter. I say, give it to Room. In lesser hands, it could have been extraordinarily gimmicky. Instead, we got a story of insight, wonder, fear, innocence, evil and eventually, understanding.
It’s been a GREAT couple of weeks for Jennifer Egan. Her spectacular novel, A Visit From The Goon Squad won the Pulitzer Prize, the LA Times Fiction Prize, and was optioned for a series by HBO. It’s that good, folks. If you’ve read it, read it again. I did. If you haven’t read it, buy and it and buckle up.
The Huffington Post offers 12 Life Lessons You Can Learn From Jane Austen.
Better Book Titles is no longer a clever internet meme, but a full blown website. Personal favorites include: Drink Responsibly by F.Scott Fitzgerald and Inside A Cat Lady’s Opium Nap by Lewis Carroll.
Guess what? Kathryn Stockett’s The Help just came out in paperback. And… it’s going to be a big ol’ movie. The first trailer for the film, being released in August, just hit the internet. It looks great!
Harper Lee is all wrapped up in what’s turning into a nasty game of She Said, She Said. Marja Mills claims Lee was fully involved in Mills’ upcoming biography of the reclusive Southerner. Lee says otherwise.
Two of the gloomiest and most compelling men “Talk Science and Culture”: Take a listen as Cormac McCarthy and Werner Herzog wax philosophic.
You like Ian McEwan, right? A lot of people do. The Browser takes a look at books that influenced his writing.
The New York Review of Books turned to Michael Chabon for his thoughts on the 50th Anniversary of The Phantom Tollbooth.
Adam Mansbach has written a children’s book with the subtitle A Storybook for Exhausted Parents. The actual title…well, I can’t print it here.
Suzanne Vega, yes that one, is a BIG fan of the underappreciated Carson McCullers. The NYT has an article on her new McCullers-centered show. And if you haven’t read it yet…..The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter.
So, it’s May. Flowers are blooming, school is drawing to a close, unlimited amounts of reading are soon to commence. Be bold and brave! Dive in to big things. You have time.
For the History Buffs:
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin is simply amazing. It’s not just Lincoln. You’re signing up for the whole cabinet and getting an incisive view into how our country worked its way into and out of the Civil War, and the ramifications of diplomatic and martial measures we are still dealing with today.
Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of A Murder Trial by Janet Malcolm. If this woman’s writing it, you better be reading it. This darkly glittering gem is meaty, unbearably intelligent, thrilling, challenging, and perspective-changing. Read it, and when you come into buy it, pick up her book on Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas too. Trust me, you will want more Malcolm.
For you Lovers of Literature, check out:
The Ice Trilogy by Vladimir Sorokin. I know winter just ended, but don’t be thrown off by the title. I guarantee you that you haven’t read something like this before. Don’t take my word for it. According to the publisher, “Pulp fiction, science fiction, New Ageism, pornography, video-game mayhem, old-time Communist propaganda, and rampant commercial hype all collide, splinter, and splatter” together in The Ice Trilogy.
So Much For That by Lionel Shriver: Shriver is an American living in England writing about complex, wonderful people and all the little intricacies and hardships of daily life. This is a tough book, but a timely one. Her writing is poignant, warm,rewarding, wise, and very often, funny.
What if Proust wrote a spy novel? Yeah, you read that right. YOUR FACE TOMORROW: Fever and Spear by Javier Marias is the first volume in a fascinating trilogy. An emotionally exhausted, nearly-divorced Spanish man is drafted(by his close friend at Oxford) into a world of espionage, intrigue, and continually dangerous cocktail parties. The writing is fluid, beautiful and deliciously alive. Must Read.
Tell me you’ve read The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. If not, don’t feel embarrassed. Kindly finish my post, and RUN to pick up a copy. Wharton’s novel opens in the dog days of summer, when Lily Bart happens to run into Lawrence Selden at Grand Central Station. Immediately after their encounter, Wharton gets to work and delivers a rich, illuminating look into New York’s social mores at the turn of the century. The less I tell you the better. Suffice it to say, Lily Bart is an incredible protagonist and belongs right up there with Anna K. and Madame Bovary.
If you are looking for something scary or otherworldly, May offers a bang up combo: Justin Cronin’s mega hit (and first in a vampire trilogy) The Passage is released in paperback.
And, China Mieville(a force to reckon with in the steampunk universe) releases his latest, Embassytown.
well, perhaps we should stop here. More to come, soon and regularly!