Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Too Many Books, Too Many Books!

I have very little time for reading books that aren’t on my class list, and yet I’m terribly tempted by a number of new releases:

This New York Times Book Review review of Robert Stone’s new book of short stories made me want to run out and get a copy immediately: "It’s true you might resist wanting to know the people in Fun With Problems or, maybe more tellingly, seeing yourself in them. You might turn away from the uncomfortable truths you don’t wish to receive, from the mature, dissolute, ultimately heartbreaking rites of passage that fill these pages. But a genuine coming-of-age story demands that its subject resist the experience. No book is for everyone, but some books can be fully taken in only when the reader is ready. Fun With Problems is a book for grown-ups, for people prepared to absorb the news of the world that it announces, for people both grateful and a little uneasy in finding a writer brave enough to be the bearer. "

The Washington Post’s Ron Charles—always a thoughtful, trusted reviewer—today brought my attention to the new novel by Louise Erdrich: “Erdrich has done what so many writers can't or won't do in this age of self-exposure: transform her own wrenching experience into a captivating work of fiction that says far more about the universal tragedy of spoiled love than it reveals about her private life.”

Lionel Shriver, one of my absolute most favorite writers, is coming out with a new novel: From New York Times bestselling author Lionel Shriver (The Post-Birthday World, We Need to Talk About Kevin), comes a searing, deeply humane novel about a crumbling marriage resurrected in the face of illness, and a family’s struggle to come to terms with disease, dying, and the obscene cost of medical care in modern America.

And, here, Paula Whyman writes about the new book of linked stories by our former teacher, Kermit Moyer: In The Chester Chronicles, Chester "Chet" Patterson describes what life is like as an Army brat growing up in the 1950s and coming of age in the 1960s. His mother is a seductress and a lush, and his father is an Army officer whom Chet both resents and admires. Moving every two or three years, Chester is a perennial new kid as well as a bookish and movie-obsessed romantic. At the age of thirteen, he falls in love, he thinks, with his own first cousin. Each chapter could stand alone as a story about a pivotal moment, but taken together, the reader gets the whole of Chester's life.

I’ve also dipped into a great book of short stories--Downriver by Jeanne Leiby, published by Carolina Wren Press—that is not entirely new but that is new to me. I’m fascinated by the Detroit area, 1970ish setting, and the writing is gorgeous and dangerous: “I love the sharp edges of Jeanne Leiby's tightly packed stories, and how she brings out the dignity of these hard lives without romanticizing or sentimentalizing her characters. Nothing is free or easy in these stories, but there is no self-pity. There is only survival in a working-class world of seen and unseen boundaries. Bargains are struck, compromises are made, secrets are kept, all in the name of survival. All over America, communities 'Down River' struggle to carry on. They are driven past, ignored by everyone who doesn¹t live there. But we can all learn a lot about getting by from the gritty characters populating the community of this rich, unforgettable collection.~JIM DANIELS”

Sigh. All I want to do today is tuck up somewhere cozy and read, read, READ!


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.