Sarah Lotz's unsettling horror novel, The Three, gave us some serious goosebumps. Three children are the sole survivors after four commercial airlines simultaneously drop from the sky. No one can find the cause of the plane crashes, and as the children's behavior becomes increasingly bizarre, an apocalyptic cult forms around the mystery of the three survivors. Our reviewer says, "The Three is the real deal: gripping, unpredictable and utterly satisfying." (Read the full review here.)
We were curious about the books Lotz has enjoyed reading lately, so we asked her to recommend three recent favorites, which she graciously agreed to share.
By Nnedi Okorafor
I read this is one greedy session. Lagoon has a terrific premise: What if the world’s first contact with aliens happened in Lagos, rather than, say, London, Tokyo or New York? But the novel is far more than this, as the alien invasion motif is effectively used as a mirror through which the city is reflected. Corruption, greed, manipulation and gender violence are all under the spotlight here, as various factions scramble to seize control of Ayodele, the alien ambassador who has risen from the sea. It’s focalised via multiple perspectives – the main protagonists include a marine biologist reeling from spousal abuse, a Ghanaian rapper and a soldier scarred by a failed attempt to prevent a sexual assault (incidentally, not all of the POVs are human. . .). These disparate viewpoints complement each other without jarring the reader. The prose is tight, the dialogue sharp and there’s a satirical streak weaving through it (Nnedi brilliantly lampoons governmental corruption and inertia, for example). A cracking and often surprising story, terrific social commentary and great fun to read.
By Lauren Beukes
Lauren read out the opening chapter of this wholly original speculative thriller at the Open Book literary festival in Cape Town last year, and I’ve never seen a crowd so entranced. The book is too rich and complex to sum up in a few words, so I’m lazily going to crib from the blurb: ‘Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies. But this one is unique even by Detroit’s standards: half boy, half deer, somehow fused together. As stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams?’ Bambi, this isn’t. It’s a gut-puncher of a novel, with some of the most evocative turns of phrase I’ve ever read, and thanks to her superb flair with characterisation and realism, there are several characters I still can’t get out of my head (and I read this months ago). (Publishing on September 16, 2014)
By Sarah Pinborough
I read and loved Mayhem last year, the first in this murder-mystery-but-so-much-more series set in a Victorian London that has a unique – and chilling – supernatural twist. In the first novel, police surgeon Dr. Thomas Bond was really put through the mill as a murderer savaged his way through London in the shadow of the Ripper (it’s based on the real-life "Torso Murders," but I’m forced to be vague here as I really urge you to read it). In Murder, Dr. Bond is back, and he’s forced to confront the fact that the events that took place in Mayhem might still be casting a pall over his life – and face the possibility that he could be losing his mind. The plot is full of ‘oh no she didn’t’ twists, and the atmosphere and sense of place is so compellingly executed, you’ll taste the fog and smell the foul breath of the river (and you’ll never look at the Thames the same way again). But what really got me was the extraordinary love triangle that runs through the novel. It’s devastating (in the best way). If you haven’t already, check out Sarah’s novella, The Language of Dying which is almost unbearably beautiful and powerful.
What do you think, readers? Will you be reading The Three or checking out any of Lotz's recommended books?
(Author photo by Christine Fourie)
Laline Paull's The Bees peeks into the hive of the honeybee, an extraordinary world that worker bee Flora 717 must navigate, defend and ultimately challenge in this fabulously imaginative debut novel. Our reviewer says that "The Bees is a tremendous work of literature, told with suspense and passion. You will never look at the activity in your flower garden the same way again." (Read the full review here.)
We were curious about the books Paull has enjoyed reading lately, so we asked her to recommend three recent favorites, which she graciously agreed to share.
Horses of God
By Mahi Binebine, translated by Lulu Norman
I read this slim novel (182 pages) in just over an hour last week – and I haven’t stopped talking about it since. I was tired, but this book required nothing from me – except letting myself get dragged by the neck through its beautiful, brutal, elegant and honest story of an 18 year old Moroccan suicide bomber, and it brought tears to my eyes. It makes no excuses, but it does shine a most humane light on the atrocity of poverty, the root of so much suffering. Mahi Binebine writes with anger and compassion, and this book is a call to arms: to protect innocence, to stand up to corruption and greed and to prove that good writing can make a political difference.
Sweetness and Light: The Mysterious History of the Honey Bee
By Hattie Ellis
Here’s a wonderful non-fiction book that is so lightly and entertainingly erudite that you can open it anywhere and be delighted by the writing. It effortlessly informs the reader about the magic of a creature that I’ve spent a long time studying, writing and talking about, yet this book still entrances me. I love books that make me feel more intelligent for having read them, and this is one of them. Hattie Ellis writes in an accessible, vivid and unpatronizing way. I’m going to keep this book handy for when I need to remind myself just why honey bees really are amazing creatures, and that I’m just one in a very long line of writers who have become obsessed by them.
By James Lever
A satirical Hollywood memoir told through the jaded innocence of the chimp who ‘played’ Cheeta in the Tarzan films. What a brilliant conceit! I remember hearing about this when it was first released and thinking, “Ooh I must read that!” But I somehow got distracted and didn’t think of it again until I recently met the author. I remembered how intriguing it sounded, and then, what a relief to genuinely love this funny, bitchy, kind and original novel. Highly recommended.
What do you think, readers? Will you be adding The Bees—or any of Paull's recommended books—to your TBR list?
Kaui Hart Hemmings follows up her best-selling debut novel The Descendants—which was made into an award-winning movie starring George Clooney—with The Possibilities, a moving story of a mother struggling to come to terms with the accidental death of her 22-year-old son. Our reviewer says of the book: "While [it] is a book ostensibly about death, it is at its core really about life—in all its messy, funny, hurtful, confusing and transcendent moments." (Read our complete review and a Q&A with Hemmings about the book.)
We were curious about the books Hemmings has enjoyed reading lately, so we asked her to recommend three recent favorites, which she graciously agreed to share.
Bread and Butter
By Michelle Wildgen
I’ve been a fan of Michelle’s work ever since our first workshop at Sarah Lawrence. This novel was rich, page-turning and simple, in the best way. Two brothers, two restaurants, one small town. The characters seriously sizzled with life—they were so utterly real, and the writing—the writing!—sings. Michelle is a master storyteller.
Another book about brothers that was captivating and fluid. This time the brothers are attorneys who return home to help their sister and her son who has been accused of hate crime. It’s an intimate book—clear-eyed, gripping and beautifully written.
The Stories of John Cheever
By John Cheever
I may as well stay the course. “Goodbye My Brother” is one of my favorite short stories of all time. A simple premise: The Pommeroy family—three sons and one daughter—meet at their summer place on the shore. One brother is so pessimistic and aggravating that he provokes his brother to hit him on the head. Small, profound and lyrical. Transcendent and enduring. It is, to me, a perfect story.
What do you think, readers? Will you be adding The Possibilities—or any of Hemmings' recommended books—to your TBR list?
Legendary food writer and editor Ruth Reichl's first novel, Delicious!, tells the story of Billie Breslin as she begins a new career as the assistant to the editor of an esteemed but struggling food magazine. The book is "like a family-style meal around a big table: fun, loud, at times messy and, ultimately, completely satisfying." (Read our interview with Reichl here.)
We were curious about the books Reichl has enjoyed reading lately, so we asked her to recommend three recent favorites. Instead, she shared not three but FIVE memorable reads.
I’m reading this again because, of all the books I’ve read in the past few years, this is the one I most admire. Normally I prefer novels to short stories, but Saunders offers up an entire universe in a few short pages, creating such memorable characters that are impossible to forget. Sometimes I’ll find myself sitting on the subway, looking at the guy across the way, imaging he’s the father in the tale that most haunts me, “The Semplica Girl Diaries.” It’s a heartbreaking story of people with good intentions that go inexorably wrong. Saunders’ dystopian visions are devastating, and yet he’s so generous with his characters that they curl up inside your mind and take residence. How does he do it? I imagine I’ll be reading this book again next year, and the year after.
By Toni Morrison
I was recently asked to recommend books about New York, which made me think about this one. I hadn’t read it since it first came out in 1992, but I remembered that I loved it. I went to the bookshelf, took it down, opened to a random page and became a prisoner of the writing, unable to put it down. This is Toni Morrison in a new mood; the language is like the title—a liquid riff with no beginning and no end, winding itself around you, resonating inside your skull, until you are understanding it in a way that transcends words. The story moves back and forth through time, telling us of a young couple who leave the South and arrive in Harlem filled with hope. It’s a story of love betrayed, of violence, and also redemption. And it’s a story of the city between two wars, a time when people still believed that “all the wars are over and there will never be another one. At last, at last, everything’s ahead. . . . Here comes the new.”
By Dorothy Dunnett
I love wandering into a book and finding myself in another time. I’d never heard of Dorothy Dunnett until a friend, knowing my passion for historical fiction, gave me the first of her long Niccolò series. I’m on book four of this fantastic 15th-century saga, following the brilliant Nicholas vander Poele who begins life as a dyer’s apprentice and ends up conquering worlds and making fortunes. The books take Nicholas and his friends on adventures across what was then the known world, traveling by land from Flanders to the city-states of Italy, and by sea to Turkey, Trebizond, Greece and Africa. Along the way we meet kings, soldier, courtesans, slaves . . . and people of every race. Dunnett is a fine historian; she creates memorable characters, and she brings the past vividly to life. I’ll be so sad when I close the last of these books.
What if everything you thought you knew about yourself turned out to be wrong? That’s the premise of Restless. When Ruth, a doctoral student, drops her young son off with her mother for the evening, her mother drops a bombshell. She is not Sally Gilmartin, the staid upper-class English housewife Ruth has always known, but Eva Delectorskaya, a former spy who has been on the run since the end of World War II. Ruth thinks her mother has gone crazy, but as she slowly absorbs her story—the details on how Eva was trained in spycraft are fascinating—she begins to think it might be true. Is it? Part cloak-and-dagger story, part psychological mystery, this is one of those books I literally stayed up all night reading. It’s a hugely fun read, but one that ultimately questions whether it is ever possible to know the truth—about anyone.
I’ve loved every book Geraldine Brooks has written. I’m awed by her ability to take such different subjects—an abolitionist in the Civil War (March), a Wampanoag Indian in early America (Caleb’s Crossing), a maid in plague-ridden England (Year of Wonders)—and bring them vividly to life. I’d never read People of the Book, and idly picked it up one day when I was browsing through a bookstore. I was instantly hooked by the story of Hanna Heath, a rare-book expert trying to unravel the mystery of a 500-year-old haggadah. Hanna’s a great character: A caustic loner, she is passionate about her work as she follows minuscule clues that take us to 15th-century Spain, 17th-century Venice, 19th-century Vienna and finally to the Bosnian war. It’s an adventure, a love story and a mystery that travels back in time while remaining firmly anchored in the present.
What do you think, readers? Will you be reading Delicious! or checking out any of Reichl's recommended books?
Critically acclaimed, award-winning writer Mona Simpson has just published her sixth novel, Casebook, in which a teenage boy recruits his best friend to help investigate his mother's new boyfriend. Our reviewer calls the book "a wistful and knowing novel." (Read the full review right here.)
We were curious about the books Simpson has enjoyed reading lately, so we asked her to recommend three recent favorites, which she graciously agreed to share.
The Story of a New Name
By Elena Ferrante
If you've read and reread Alice Munro, William Trevor and William Maxwell, your first hours spent reading Elena Ferrante, an Italian novelist translated by Ann Goldstein and published in English only in the last decade, you'll feel you've not only been given a gift but also that you're being shown a huge store. Elena Ferrante is a pen name. All we know about the author is from her books; she does not make appearances, give interviews or submit to book tours. This is the second novel of her Neopolitan trilogy about an abiding friendship between two intelligent girls who strove to transcend the brutality and poverty of their childhoods through the fragile nets of education.
Marcel Duchamp: The Afternoon Interviews
By Calvin Tomkins
This is how this beguiling slim book starts:
Paul Chan: When did you first meet Duchamp
Calvin Tomkins: That would have been 1959. I was working for Newsweek Magazine at the time. Newsweek in those days had no art coverage. But occasionally—two or three times a year maybe—there'd be a story on art some editor thought we should cover and so they'd pull a writer maybe—there’d be a story on art some editor thought we should cover and so they’d pull a writer from another section. I was writing for the foreign-news section at the time.
PC: Newsweek put you on the Duchamp beat.
CT: Right. I got the call one day to go and interview Marcel Duchamp, which was a complete surprise to me because I knew nothing whatsoever about art. And I guess I probably thought that he was long in the past. I’d heard of him, of course. The first monograph on him and his work ever published came out in ’59 in Paris and in New York, and the editor gave me a copy of the book. I only had a couple of hours to skim through it. The interview was already arranged. It was at the King Cole Bar in the entering the place and locating Duchamp. We sat down at a table, and he motioned toward the mural and said, “I like that, don’t you?” I assumed he was kidding, so I laughed. But then I started to realize that he did like it. That was the initial surprise: he thought it was wonderful. I don’t think I had a tape recorder in those days. But anyway we started talking, and I was taking notes.
PC: What was your first impression of him.
CT: The thing that really surprised and delighted me was that even though all my questions were very dumb and ignorant, he somehow managed to turn every one of them into something interesting. He had the most enchanting and easy manner. He was at home in his own skin, and he made me—and everybody around him—relaxed. I remember asking him, “Since you’ve stopped making art, how do you spend your time?” And he said, “Oh, I’m a breather, I’m a respirateur, isn’t that enough?”
After just this first part of the introduction, I was hooked. I wanted to know about both these men—the enigmatic Duchamp and the foreign-news reporter who begins to care about art.
Thinking, Fast and Slow
By Daniel Kahneman
This is an amazing book for the insights it reveals about the way our minds trick us. Even memory turns out to be subject to its own narrative conventions, and so the truth of experiences as we having them does not match what we later believe them to have been. There are a dozen discrepancies, fallacies, illusions and incongruences unearthed and revealed by Kahneman's research, but I love reading this book for its own submerged narrative about how he and his collaborator, Amos Tversky, gave each other the best years of their working lives.
It is a love story, about the romance of work.
What do you think, readers? Will you be adding Casebook—or any of Simpson's recommended books—to your TBR list?
(Author photo by Gasper Tringale)
Evie Wyld's thought-provoking new novel, All the Birds, Singing, introduces readers to Jake Whyte, a young Australian woman who tends sheep on a remote island off the coast of England and who has been trying to track down the beast that's threatening her flock. A second narrative explores what led Jake to the isolated island in the first place. Of the book's highlights, our reviewer says, "Wyld excels in the intimate details that make up the relationship between humans and animals." (Read the full review here.)
We were curious about the books Wyld has enjoyed reading lately, so we asked her to recommend three recent favorites, which she graciously agreed to share.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
By Richard Flanagan
I was in Perth recently and on the way to a radio interview the lady who was taking me there told me I had to read it. I’d recently met Richard, and enjoyed his company and so it seemed like a good idea. The book has the dark feeling of great art to it. It’s based on Flanagan’s father’s experiences as a POW working on the Thai-Burma Death Railway. I want other people to read it, because I need to talk about it with someone.
By Colin Barrett
This is a book of short stories that my editor sent. He never sends me books, and so I knew it’d be excellent. I love this for its brutality and also its humanity. The ordinary way extreme violence is described, and the domestic nature of the lives of his characters. It’s one of those books that makes you wonder if the characters are good people doing bad things or bad people doing good things.
The Night Guest
By Fiona McFarlane
This was sent to me in my capacity as a bookseller. The cover was so beautiful and unusual that I really wanted to sell it in my shop, so it was a relief when the book was fantastic too. It’s very funny, and also incredibly dark and harrowing. It’s been a long time since I read a book with an elderly protagonist who isn't a caricature of old age. Fantastically enjoyable to read.
What do you think, readers? Will you be adding All the Birds, Singing—or any of Wyld's recommended books—to your TBR list?
(Author photo by Roelof Bakker)
Maggie Shipstead's second novel, Astonish Me, is our Top Pick in fiction for April. Our reviewer describes it as "a request, a demand, a dare, all wrapped up in two little words, heavy with promise. And like the prima ballerina at the heart of the novel itself, Shipstead delivers a glorious story that does exactly what it says it will." (Read the full review here.)
We were curious about the books Shipstead has enjoyed reading lately, so we asked her to recommend three recent favorites, which she graciously agreed to share.
By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This had been on my to-read list forever, and when Adichie won the NBCC Award for fiction, I finally remembered to go out and buy it. What a truly spectacular book. Everything about it is alive and essential and harmonious: the flawless prose, the fully-realized characters, the looping shape of the narrative, the vividly textured settings. Although Adichie's story speaks to big, thorny issues like race and class and immigration (not to mention love), her characters all feel like complete, complex people, not props for an argument, and the novel has a gentle archness and lightness of tone that makes its remarkable depth and insight seem effortless.
I was at a book festival with Arthur Phillips this winter but shamefully hadn't read his books, so I decided to start with his first, Prague, a novel that came out in 2002 and revolves around a group of ex-pats living in Budapest, not Prague, in the early 1990s. (The cheeky fake-out of the title alone is reason enough to love this book.) It's full of wit and casual brilliance and a pleasantly convoluted nostalgia-that-is-also-a-deep-suspicion-of-nostalgia and characters who, like real people, are capable of holding all sorts of endlessly shifting, often contradictory convictions and delusions. On a technical level, the omniscient voice, which I think is incredibly difficult to sustain, is used masterfully and acrobatically throughout to deliver all kinds of structural surprises and to convey a sense of overarching vision.
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
By Adelle Waldman
Waldman's debut novel is so sharply observed it's a little frightening. I've read it twice, and both times I felt the continuous sense of recognition that the best fiction inspires, where you keep thinking, "Yes, that's exactly how it is!" The consciousness of the protagonist, Nate, is rendered with an intricate completeness that I found immensely satisfying, but I was also fascinated and moved by the novel's many insights about fickleness of desire and its resistance to intellectual governance. There's a formidably critical mind behind this book, but I'd hesitate to call the novel satirical: Waldman forgoes comic exaggeration in favor of precise, measured, unflinching truthfulness tempered by compassion, even tenderness.
What do you think, readers? Will you be adding Astonish Me—or any of Shipstead's recommended books—to your TBR list?
(Author photo by Michelle Legro)
Jean Hanff Korelitz's new novel, You Should Have Known, is the type of unrelenting page-turner that keeps readers (including myself) up way into the night, simply unable to put it down. Our reviewer calls the taut story of how the comfortable and predictable life of a Manhattan therapist is completely upended "an insightful, compelling tale." (Read the full review here.)
We were curious about the books Korelitz has enjoyed reading lately, so we asked her to recommend three recent favorites, which she graciously agreed to share.
Blood Will Out
By Walter Kirn
Last week I gave a reading with my friend, novelist Jane Green, at R.J. Julia bookstore in Madison, Connecticut. R.J. Julia is one of the great bookstores—warm and friendly and full of people who love books. The store has a very sweet tradition of thanking writers who come to give readings by letting them choose a book from the stock. Here’s the funny part: thousands of books to choose from and Jane and I both picked the same one: Walter Kirn’s new memoir, Blood Will Out. I’ve been fascinated by the Clark Rockefeller case since I first read about it in 2008, as I am fixated on sociopaths in general. But Kirn, who actually met Rockefeller (or “Rockefeller”) in 1998 and maintained a connection with him for years, had a front row seat to his constant myth making. Kirn’s willingness to examine his own culpability in accepting these falsehoods makes his memoir a powerful examination of deceit and its even creepier cousin, self-deception.
How I Became Hettie Jones
By Hettie Jones
I had dinner at the American Academy of Arts and Letters the other night with my husband (he’s the member, not I!). The room was so full of important writers, artists and composers that even the most determined name-dropper would run out of steam before getting through a fraction of them, but I was most truly thrilled to be sitting with the daughters of Amiri Baraka (who’d been memorialized in a pre-dinner ceremony). I’ve had no special feelings for Baraka, but their mother, Hettie Jones, is the author of one of my very favorite memoirs, the sublimely entitled How I Became Hettie Jones. The book is Hettie’s account of leaving her Queens childhood for Beat Generation art and bohemia in 1950s Greenwich Village, marriage to poet and playwright Baraka (then known as Le Roi Jones), and what it was like to be a white woman married to a black man who ultimately came to feel that he could no longer be a black man who was married to a white woman. Their daughters, who are my age, are characters in a book I’ve loved for twenty years; talking to them and hearing about their lives only made me want to read it again.
By Alison Bechdel
Last fall I was lucky enough to see the Public Theater’s production of Fun Home, a musical adapted from Alison Bechdel’s 2006 graphic memoir of the same name. I’m not a big fan of graphic anything, and had only vaguely heard of Bechdel, but I was so wowed by the power of Bechdel’s work that I went rushing out to read all of her books. Bechdel is a deeply cerebral writer, processing and reprocessing the motifs of her life with reference to literature, philosophy and psychological theory. Her story may not sound outwardly eventful (father, mother and three children grow up in an old Pennsylvania home; the daughter’s gradual self-identification as a lesbian may or may not create a crisis of identity in her closeted father), but Bechdel manages to funnel an entire world of ideas into and out or her autobiographical material. I loved Fun Home and Bechdel’s more recent Are You My Mother?, but I had the best time of all with the omnibus edition of her hilarious and wonderful syndicated strip Dykes to Watch Out For. Am I converted to “graphic anything”? Nope. But I’ll read whatever Bechdel writes from this point on. And if Fun Home transfers to Broadway, I’m definitely going to see it again.
(Author photo by Mark Czajkowski)
We love books about books, bookstores, book lovers—anything to do with books! In Gabrielle Zevin's new novel, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, the titular character is the prickly proprietor of a seen-better-days bookstore—Island Books—whose life is turned upside-down . . . in a good way. The enchanting book has a little of everything: romance, books, friendships, second chances. Read our interview with Zevin about it.
We were curious about the books Zevin has enjoyed reading lately, so we asked her to recommend three recent favorites, which she graciously agreed to share.
The Sisters Brothers
By Patrick DeWitt
When I was in college, I read that Vladimir Nabokov loved Westerns, and because I loved Nabokov, I thought I should make a point to read Westerns, too. For years, I’ve struggled through Westerns, but I don’t think I’ve ever truly enjoyed one until The Sisters Brothers. I loved reading about Eli Sisters’ struggles with oral hygiene, weight and romance. I wept for his horse, Tub. After a long dry spell, this is the Western I have always wanted to read.
My Accidental Jihad
By Krista Bremer
I ended up reading My Accidental Jihad because I met the author, Krista Bremer, at a book event. I’m not sure I would have read the book if I hadn’t met her. That one provocative word in the title might have led me to make assumptions about what kind of story this was going to be. In a way, this is the point of such a title. Though the word has a specific connotation to an American reader, jihad, as Bremer explains, means struggle. The context of this memoir is Bremer’s marriage to an older, Libyan, Muslim man, but at the heart of the story are the issues with which many women struggle: feminism, spirituality, love and children. The book is gently humorous, too: At one point, Bremer’s young daughter gives a Western makeover to a Muslim Barbie doll. [Look for our review of My Accidental Jihad in our May issue.]
Not so long ago, I wrote a Young Adult series, and to an extent, the writing of it burnt me out on ever wanting to read another one. That said, I was irresistibly drawn to the premise of The Winner’s Curse. A young noblewoman buys a slave, and then the two slowly fall in love. But how can she love a person whom she owns, and vice versa? This is a fascinating book, with interesting things to say about race, class, gender, history and power. In an odd way, it reminded of Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea. I can’t think of a more perfect, provocative read for a mother-daughter book club.
What do you think, readers? Will you be adding The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry—or any of Zevin's recommended books—to your TBR list?
Walter Kirn's chilling new memoir, Blood Will Out, details his fascinating, 15-year friendship with Clark Rockefeller, the man who claimed to be of the well-known aristocratic family but who ended up being not only an imposter but also a murderer. The book, which our reviewer calls "equally dark, edgy, humorous and philosophical," is our Top Pick in nonfiction for March. (Read the full review right here.)
We were curious about the books Kirn has enjoyed reading lately, so we asked him to recommend three recent favorites, which he graciously agreed to share.
Reality Hunger: A Manifesto
By David Shields
As people migrate into virtual worlds housed inside their electronic devices, a corresponding pull is building up that tugs us toward the actual, the palpable. Because life feels increasingly fictional, that is, we need not go to books for yet more make believe. This singular essay on our current predicament as authors and readers (and that means everyone) reveals the new possibilities of world building in serious literature. It shows us how the mind and spirit clothes itself in excerpts and quotations, samplings and borrowings, in its struggle to find definition and significance in an elusive age of flux.
How to Sell
By Clancy Martin
This novel of the retail jewelry industry and a Biblical contest for love between two brothers is a masterpiece of contemporary noir. Vanity and chicanery rule the day, and no one and nothing can be trusted, least of all the value of the bright baubles that drive the main characters' dodgy family business. Darwin was a romantic about life compared to Martin in this book, but his pessimism is strangely bracing, like a walk down a long street of shadows in the cold.
The Red Book
By Carl Jung
This is a mysterious, poetic and sometimes incomprehensible diary of the great psychoanalyst’s dream life. I like to read it before bed. It opens doors into my unconscious mind, and its presence lingers through the night. Jung reminds us that we’re all heroes on the inside, and that our insides are vast and bottomless. He gives us access to our mythical selves and challenges us to explore them and stay brave.
What do you think, readers? Will you be adding Blood Will Out—or any of Kirn's recommended books—to your TBR list?
(Author photo © Beowulf Sheehan)