Inspired by Pulitzer Prize Winners Naifeh and Smith for their brilliant book, “Van Gogh: The Life”, I wanted to share some other great reads.
1. “How Music Works” – David Byrne
This informative collection of essays discussing the history of music is a natural eBook collection — just click and listen.
2.“The Life of Oscar” – Junot Diaz
Diaz, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, recently won a genius grant and has released a critically acclaimed collection of stories, “This is How You Lose Her.” His 2005 novel, “The Life of Oscar “ shows Diaz’s rhythm as a “syncopated stagger-step between opacity and transparency, exclusion and inclusion, defiance and desire.” (NY Times Leah Hager Cohen, 9/22/12)
3. “The Yellow Birds” – Kevin Powers
“A first novel as compact and powerful as a foot locker full of ammo” (Benjamin Percy, NY Times, 10/7/12). Written in a fractured structure, Percy explains that this style “serves the story in two ways. First, it turns readers into active participants, enlisting them in a sense as co-authors who fit together the many memories and guess at what terrible secret lies in wait …Because they lean forward instead of back, because they participate in piecing together the puzzle, they are made more culpable.”
4. “Live by Night” – Dennis Lehane
Janet Maslin claims it is “Crime Noir 101, as taught by the best of its current practitioners.” A nominal follow up to Lehane’s “The Given Day,” “Live by Night,” brings us back to Boston in the 20’s during prohibition. “Yet his idea of plain old crime is sophisticated, literary and barbed enough… that it makes this book a sentence-by-sentence pleasure. You are in the hands of an expert. And you’ll know it.” (Janet Maslin, NY Times 10/3/12)
5. “San Miguel” – T.C. Boyle
Described as “chilling and beautiful” and “a striking departure from his satirical novels of off-beat characters,” Jennifer Reese of NPR further says “But just when you’ve decided Boyle has written a horror novel, he introduces a long, tender love story that brings the narrative to its bittersweet conclusion.”
6. “The Round House” – Louise Erdrich
Winner of the 2012 National Book Award for fiction and author of “Love Medicine,” Erdrich’s novel is about “a teenage boy’s effort to investigate an attack on his mother on a North Dakota reservation, and his struggle to come to terms with the violence in their culture.” Erdrich accepted the award and said she wanted to “acknowledge the grace and endurance of native women.” She added: “This is a book about a huge case of injustice ongoing on reservations. Thank you for giving it a wider audience.”Leslie Kaufman, NY Times, November 15, 2012).
7. “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity” – Katherine Boo
The winner of the 2012 National Book Award for non – fiction, this book is about the “heart-rendering struggles of the dwellers of a slum in the shadow of luxury hotels in India.” In her acceptance speech Boo states, “If this prize means anything it is that small stories in so-called hidden places matter because they implicate and complicate what we consider to be the larger story, which is the story of people who do have political and economic powers.” (NY Times, November 15, 2012)
8. “Bel Canto” – Ann Patchett
Many critics complained that Ann Patchett should have won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction this year for her fantastic book “State of Wonder.” (To remind you, no one was awarded the Pulitzer fiction prize for 2012.) Ann Patchett is a book lover’s friend, she even opened a book store in Nashville, TN in 2011. Many consider “Bel Canto” her finest book. Here is a wonderful link if you are interested in learning more about Bel Canto arias. (http://www.nytimes.com/video/2008/11/28/arts/music/1194834022983/bel-canto.html)
Be sure to add my blog to your RSS feed as I will be following up with a Holiday Book list in early December. In the interim, I would like to hear what you are reading and in what format.
Happy Thanksgiving and be well,