Commentary by Felice Aull, Ph.D, M.A., Editor, Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database. Now that summer is upon us, I hope you have access to a cool, restful place where you can burrow into a book and get lost in it. Here are some books I read during the past year or so that I found particularly absorbing, listed in no particular order. Perhaps some will appeal to you as well.
Novel, Await Your Reply, by Dan Chaon. A suspenseful, dark story of identity in which three parallel narratives eventually find each other. (Now available in paperback)
Nonfiction, Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers. A harrowing story, told simply and directly but with growing menace, of what happened to one Muslim American family during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The hurricane was the least of their traumas. (Now available in paperback)
Novel, A Gate at the Stairs, by Lorrie Moore "Ms. Moore has written her most powerful book yet, a book that gives us an indelible portrait of a young woman coming of age in the Midwest in the year after 9/11 and her initiation into the adult world of loss and grief." Michiko Kakutani, New York Times book review. (Now available in paperback)
Novel, A Person of Interest, by Susan Choi. "…say[s] something about what it means to live in a society that is simultaneously tolerant and suspicious, inclusive and all too ready to punish its citizens for the crime of being their authentic selves . . . making us feel deeply for characters who are profoundly flawed. . . . beautifully written. Choi's precise, cadenced prose alternates between plain-spokenness and lyrical dazzle." Francine Prose, New York Times book review. (Available in paperback)
Short Story Collection by Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccustomed Earth. "Most of Lahiri’s insightful writings concern the betwixt and between challenges associated with immigration and with generational shifts. This collection of engaging and beautifully written stories examines both challenges." Lois LaCivita Nixon,
Novel, Then Came the Evening, by Brian Hart. The author’s first novel is a story of people living harsh lives in the harshly beautiful landscape of Idaho. "Quietly exceptional". . . short review in the New Yorker.
Poetry: Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty, by Tony Hoagland. Hoagland is witty and observant as he focuses relentlessly on contemporary American culture.
Poetry: My Life As a Doll, by Elizabeth Kirschner. The speaker spins out "a narrative of embattled childhood" and its long-range effects.