Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Reading

So far this summer I've read five very good books:

Tom Rachman's The Imperfectionists, is a terrific first novel that is both funny and moving. The novel concerns a failing newspaper (these days, is there any other kind?) in Rome. The construction of the novel is ingenious, with each chapter capable of standing on its own.

DCB Pierre's Vernon God Little is a hilariously tragic novel narrated by the wry and foul-mouthed title character. Picture a hybrid of Holden Caulfield and Eminem. To find pathos in a novel about a school shooting set in a tiny, bigoted Texas town (is there any other kind?) is not hard, but to find humor in such a grim setting is a world-class feat.

Salvador Plascencia's The People of Paper is a surreal novel with over a dozen narrators. It's about immigration and identity to be sure, but this novel is, at its core, about what it means to be a human being. Clearly a writer to watch.

Roddy Doyle's A Star Called Henry
is the first in a trilogy of novels that chart modern Irish history. Doyle's earlier comic work, especially The Barrytown Trilogy, is as funny as anything I've ever read. Here, though, in addition, to humor is extraordinary depth. Shades of Beloved hover like the ghosts of lost children over all the action in this wonderful book. The final volume of this series was released last month. I can't wait to get there.

Etgar Keret's The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God is a collection of short stories by a dazzlingly inventive Israeli writer. Echoes of Kafka and Cortazar abound in these strange and funny short pieces.

What are you reading?

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