Monday, August 23, 2010
Setting up your September and October supplies for a festive reading season
As another summer draws quickly to a close,it's time to look forward and start gathering the cream of the crop soon to bloom on bookshelves everywhere. Just like the movie industry,many major league books are timed to be released in the fall when the mindsets of the average reader tend to seek more substantive literary fare.
That doesn't mean you can't have some fun along the way. Sure,it's good to eat your literary vegetables but adding a little satirical sauce or dramatic dressing to them can make them that much more mentally flavorful.
Also,autumn can make you more appreciative of a rich and hearty read to curl up by the heater with,unlike the need to chill out in more ways than one during the sweltering dog days left to us in the summer. With that in mind,let's stir up the literary soup and see what's simmering:
LIFE LESSONS ON A LEARNING CURVE
Author Brock Clarke follows up his eerily amusing novel,An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England,with another literary obsessed hero in Exley. This time,it's Miller,a nine year old boy convinced that one of the comatose vets in the local VA hospital is his missing father.
Since Frederick Exley,the long deceased author of A Fan's Notes,was said to live in their hometown and is his dad's favorite writer,Miller decides that the best way to save his father is to find Exley.
He's not getting much help in his seemingly pointless quest from his therapist,whose attentions are drawn more to Miller's mother than his young patient. Clarke's offbeat yet compelling storytelling skills make this new novel of his one to watch out for.(October)
In Emma Donoghue's Room,we meet Jack,a five year old boy who has lived his whole life thus far in a confined space with his mother yet sees his surroundings as a vast and comfortable home.
His mother,however,knows all too well the truth about their imprisonment by the mysterious Old Nick and with Jack's help,plans to escape into the outer world. The two of them do manage to gain their freedom but the consequences of that is not quite the happily ever after one would expect.
This book has already been chosen for the long list for the Man Booker Awards and judging by the advance good word for it,Room is destined to receive many more literary honors in it's future. Don't dismiss Room as typical movie of the week material;this story is intended to be a honestly earned emotional journey(September):
EYE OPENING APPETIZERS
If you're looking for a coffee table book that is a feast for the eyes as well as the mind,look no further than Food Landscapes,a collection of the amazing edible artwork that photographer Carl Warner has been delighting international audiences with.
Not only are these delectable depictions of the everyday world around us pleasing to admire,you have to marvel at the creativity that makes bread and potatoes into mountain tops,vegetable greens into forest greens and oceans made from fish and cabbage. No time like the present to start planning those holiday gifts and this picturesque picnic should be suitable for someone or two on your list(October):
BIBLIO BLASTS FROM THE PAST
Daphne Kalotay's first novel Russian Winter makes an auspicious debut as did it's leading lady Nina Revskaya,a once renowned ballerina from the famed Bolsoi who now is in her declining years and must sell her almost equally famed collection of jewelry in order to close the door on her past.
Jamming that door with their inquisitive feet is a rather unlikely pair of newcomers into Nina's life-Drew Brooks,the young auction house associate handling the sale,and Grigori Soldin,a professor of Russian studies that feels the key to discovering his true identity lies in an unusual set of gems that are in Nina's possession.
I must confess that I'm currently reading this book and so far,it's an atmospheric tale of intrigue and secrets as precious as the jewels in question. The upcoming blog tour for Russian Winter is set to make a stop here this fall,so stay tuned to learn more about this brilliant ballet of mystery and drama about to unfold(September):
Thanks to the success of the made for cable miniseries of Ken Follet's The Pillars of the Earth this summer,many of his fans are eager to embrace his new historical saga series that starts with The Fall of Giants.
The setting for this multiple family drama takes place during the advent and the end of World War I,as some rise to the occasion while others are left adrift in the constant shifting of events and social changes that alter their intended paths in life.
The Fall of Giants is the first of three books in Follet's Century trilogy and with any luck,should become our next literary center of attention that also succeeds on the small screen(September):
IT'S THE STORY OF A GIRL...
Sena Jeter Naslund is best known for her novels that reimagine the past but in her newest novel,Adam & Eve,she takes a creative leap into the future as her heroine Lucy strives to protect the flash drive left behind by her astrophysicist husband Thom,who died before his startling discoveries about extraterrestrial life could be disclosed to the world.
During her time of grieving,Lucy is asked to take on another perilous journey involving earth shattering information and finds herself stranded in a no man's land with only a delusional deserted soldier for company.
These two eventually form a bond that leads them to create their own version of Eden,one that doesn't hold together for long. This is certainly unexpected and unexplored territory for Naslund but it sounds like a trip well worth taking by the adventurous reader.(September)
The limits of sibling devotion are severely tested in The Good Sister,as Roxanne Callahan's marriage may become one of the casualties from troubled younger sister Simone's heinous crime against her family,which leaves Simone's daughter Merell in need of guidance as well .
As the media spotlight on Simone continues to intensify,Roxanne is caught between helping her sister overcome the horrors of their past and holding her present happiness together. This is the third novel by Drusilla Campbell but it may be the first to break through the main stream and cause folks to seek out her earlier works as the next book club sensation.(October)
The title character of Melissa Jones' historical novel,Emily Hudson,has some real life literary inspiration,as one of the muses of Henry James who based several of his fictional females on the exploits of his unconventional cousin Minnie Temple.
In this tale set after the Civil War,orphaned Emily must seek her own way towards pursuing her artistic intentions which are frowned upon by her strict uncle but encouraged by her devoted cousin William.
Upon hearing the news of her broken engagement to a wealthy captain still on the battlefield,Emily joins William on a trip to England where soon enough even his attentions are growing as restrictive as her uncle's once were.
As Emily tries to find her independence,the mores of society as well as her emotional connections persist in making more and more obstacles for her to endure. The flair of one of Henry James' literary contemporaries also makes it's prescience known as the thematic framework of women trapped by convention classically molded by Edith Wharton also sparkle within these pages. Fans of both authors could have a lot to talk about with this one(September):
I hope some of these reading recommendations are helpful in choosing from the vast offerings of the upcoming literary season. It's a tricky business,this selection of promising titles,not to mention the unknown affects of a well meant or over exaggerated personal review. However,the potential for giving joy(or an unexpected insight) to another reader is always worth the risk:
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