Tragic, frustrating, majestic, bewildering are all words I would use to describe this short story collection. I h...moreSay You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan
Tragic, frustrating, majestic, bewildering are all words I would use to describe this short story collection. I have never read so many sad tales that did not come out of Russian literature. This collection is breathtaking in so many ways that mere words do no justice. Akpan is a true artist that paints with words a world so tragically wrong that it bothers you to your core. To know that such a world exists shames us all. Yet the writing is so beautiful that you realize that you are reading great literature. Uwem Akpan is a Jesuit Priest and an obvious observer of the conflicts that ensnare his country and continent. This work will move you to tears, but there are so many deeply good people that you come away with hope for the future and hope that Akpan writes even more stories. It would be a shame for his talents to go to waste. He is a master storyteller and there simply needs to be work of this caliber available. The short story format has seen better days, too many low rent talent and not enough avenues for the works to be exposed, it is rare to see such a glaring amount of talent in the format from a new writer. I hope that this collection can revive the format that has fallen on hard times as of late. (less)
Pelecanos has written a fine novel that seems like a template for one of his series of the HBO series The Wire. A taunt tale of a night gone wrong and...morePelecanos has written a fine novel that seems like a template for one of his series of the HBO series The Wire. A taunt tale of a night gone wrong and how one moment can haunt your life forever. Six lives are forever changed by one stupid night in D.C. Poor race relations, need of redemption and vivid human interactions make this a wonderful read that will keep your attention. There is little mystery here, more of a modern tragedy. The story has very clear characters, there seems to be no grey areas, which makes this a better read in the long run. Too many books try to muddy the lines between good and evil and the stories tend to suffer. Pelecanos is the embodiment of a fine tradition of literary crime writing that has all but left the American scene. I do hope for many kmore fine books from Pelecanos in the future.(less)
This weeks classic book is the WFB's first Blackford Oakes novel. Oakes seems to have been Buckley's American a...moreSaving the Queen By William F. Buckley
This weeks classic book is the WFB's first Blackford Oakes novel. Oakes seems to have been Buckley's American answer to James Bond. The story was fast paced and interesting. Newly recruited to the CIA, Oakes is sent to the UK to try to find and eliminate an intelligence leak of nuclear secrets that may well be coming from the Queen herself. This was the first in an exciting series that rivals some of the best espionage thrillers that are produced today. (less)
Never has a piece of comic literature hit me as hard as this little book. Recounting the journey of a Jewish man caught up in the First World War as a...moreNever has a piece of comic literature hit me as hard as this little book. Recounting the journey of a Jewish man caught up in the First World War as a civilian in Germany. The book is his tale of journey through the country to provide a service for a widow and the people he meets along the way as he searches for a room. This comic tale is a subtle indictment against human egoism as it is a commentary on exile, loneliness and Zionism. The book was first written in Hebrew and now translated by Hillel Halkin into a beautifully strong English version.
I had never read any of Agnon’s works before this book. I now see that he deserves a place with the finest writers that are celebrated. This is the type of work I always wish Chabon would write, but rarely does he match this luminary from the past. One finds themselves traveling with the narrator as he encounters friends and family from his past in the most detached way.
William Maxwell is best known as the fiction editor of The New Yorker, but his very own novels are worthy of greater esteem than they currently receiv...moreWilliam Maxwell is best known as the fiction editor of The New Yorker, but his very own novels are worthy of greater esteem than they currently receive. The Library of America has published the first collection pf his early works and I must say that it is impressive. I was not aware of these books before I saw the collection so it was a rare treat to be exposed to a “hidden” treasure that needs more public awareness.
Maxwell should have been seen as a master novelist, I find his work better than the standard Vidal or Mailor. They Came Like Swallows is a gripping account of the Flu pandemic in 1918, something that has re-entered our national awareness after so long forgotten. This collection is a powerful reminder that we need to constantly re-read novels from the past just to see what we are missing.(less)
Novelist, essayist and short story writer Katherine Anne Porter’s works have been collected in the usual above average style by t...moreKatherine Anne Porter
Novelist, essayist and short story writer Katherine Anne Porter’s works have been collected in the usual above average style by the Library of America. All of the must read works in one volume is handy, and I was delighted to find it on my door step a week ago. I have long loved Porter’s writing, first as a high school student introduced to all of the great short fiction and her work The jilting of Granny Weatherall, about a dying woman remembering being left at the alter. In the Southern Gothic tradition of Faulkner and O’Connor, Porter had a few submissions, yet she did not stay in the genre. As a person that loves essays, Porter’s are some of the best from her period. Her section on writers of her day is worth the price of the book on their own.(less)
Christopher Buckley returns just in time for the new session, with a charming satire on the Supreme Court and the politics of confirming a Justice. B...more Christopher Buckley returns just in time for the new session, with a charming satire on the Supreme Court and the politics of confirming a Justice. Buckley is the current champ of political satire that is truly comedic. His tale of lobbyists , Thank You for Smoking was pure genius, and Supreme Courtship is a great addition to his body of work. The best part is that many of the far reaching parts of the book do not seem that far-fetched in the current political season.
Supreme Courtship starts with the opposition party borking two Presidential appointees to the Supreme Court. The first was denied a seat because as a twelve year old he believed the movie To Kill a Mockingbird was a bit boring in parts. The second for an even more asinine reason that has to be read for pure comic fun. The President next sends up a TV judge from one of those programs scattered throughout the channels.
The book is a delight and readers who care for politics can laugh at just how broken down the system has become at the hands of political sharks. Why there might not be many suggestions on how to fix the problem, Buckley adeptly describes the bigger issues. This is one book to read as we start the new term of the High Court and we choose a new President, someone who most likely will have to make an appointment to this very court. Read and enjoy.(less)
The Brass Verdict offers us the return of Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer. Haller is brought out of a self-imposed retirement to take over the prac...more The Brass Verdict offers us the return of Mickey Haller, the Lincoln Lawyer. Haller is brought out of a self-imposed retirement to take over the practice of a murdered colleague. The new cases range from the petty to the major and one of the cases just might be the motive for the original murder. Haller is teamed with LAPD homicide Detective, Harry Bosch, a favorite character of the genre. Haller has to first take over the biggest case of his career, the murder trial of Walter Elliot. Elliot is the head of a major movie studio and on trial for the double murder of his unfaithful wife and her lover. With little knowledge of the case, he is given just one instruction; there must not be any delay in the trial. Haller is faced with a tough case, fast approaching deadline and the possibility that whoever killed Vincent, the lawyer he replaced, just might make him the next target. The Brass Verdict is definitely a page turner. The action is engrossing, as are the characters. The may just be Connelly’s finest work yet in the genre. The mixing of Bosch with Haller works so well, in ways that the previous crossover of his characters did not, that you cannot help but keep reading. (less)
Raised in the Witness Relocation Program after she and her family witnessed a gang-land murder, Melody Grace McCartney wants the life that was denied...moreRaised in the Witness Relocation Program after she and her family witnessed a gang-land murder, Melody Grace McCartney wants the life that was denied her. After twenty years, her family is dead and her original case worker has retired. Tired and bored of her current cover, Melody lies to the authorities about a threat, not knowing that the crime family had indeed found her. Spirited away by her new protector Sean, Melody finds herself attracted to the young agent. Yet, when Jonathon, the son of murderer that wants her dead finds Melody, she is attracted to him as well. Sean promises her more of the same, Jonathon tells her he can end her misery and life in protection, yet how can she trust the man that is supposed to kill her? Davis Cristofano has constructed a taut thriller that keeps pace with anything currently being published. Fast moving and intelligent, the story does not follow the usual thriller patterns, becoming pleasantly unpredictable. Melody becomes a believable character and the tension is felt by the reader. Usually, I read several books at once. Chapter here, chapter there. I must admit that I read this book yesterday in one seating, by the fire as it snowed throughout Atlanta. A perfect book for a day in and a wonderful replacement for the Television, after I had finished with the story it felt like I had been to a movie. I found the writing that vivid, I could actually visualize the action. The interplay between Melody and her two men is almost as good as the interplay inside of Melody. She sees herself as a helpless victim, until her own actions are brought to life through the story. Cristofano has written a wonderful debut novel and I eagerly await any follow-up.
Hamish MacBeth returns in his 25th novel of Highland sleuthing. A strange new female has moved to the quiet Highland village while Hamish was away on...moreHamish MacBeth returns in his 25th novel of Highland sleuthing. A strange new female has moved to the quiet Highland village while Hamish was away on Holiday. He returns to find the elder females of the village angered that the new lady might by running an illegal brothel. It turns out that she is selling tainted potions to the men of the village – promising that the ill-advised concoctions will rekindle the lustful feelings of their wives.
In truth, the wives were angered as were the men, leading to the quick murder of the woman – dubbed witch by the townspeople. When MacBeth finds the body, he is at first the prime suspect, much to the delight of CDI Blair. Blair is Hamish’s constant irritant, always looking to end MacBeth, one wat or another. Yet, when more victims are found and forensics clear Hamish, Blair must find another suspect fast. As always, MacBeth is on the lookout for love and romance, something that his little village does not provide him. He is surrounded by his pets and history, things that he ultimately values more than a woman.
Beaton has produced another fine and thrilling story of the Highlands. I always find these stories a delight to read and this one is no different.(less)
A muckraking reporter with a terrible scar from childhood and more enemies than she knows checks into a private clinic...moreThe Private Patient by PD James
A muckraking reporter with a terrible scar from childhood and more enemies than she knows checks into a private clinic for plastic surgery is murdered after the completion of the tricky procedure, leaving it up to Commander Adam Dalgliesh and his murder squad to find the culprit. The squad is called into what should be an ordinary case in the country by a politically well connected patient, much to their unhappiness, as each member of the squad had pressing personal business in London. Not the least of which is Adam Dalgliesh, poet-policeman who is finally ready to wed his beloved Emma. Yet, he must take to Dorsett to find the killer once again. James has once again created a stellar crime novel that will rival any in the genre. Her characters are always rich and complex, unlike the cutouts found in a lot of the muck that passes for crime novels. I personally adore the way she presents the mysteries and the characters inside their world, making the Dalgliesh books one of my favorite fiction escapes, sitting side by side with the Rebus books by Rankin and anything by Michael Connelly. Dalgliesh should be well suited for many more cases, as long as the good lady continues to write.
If you have never read Pelecanos than you have surely been missing a wonderful literary time. Pelecanos is a rare tale...moreWhat it Was by George Pelecanos
If you have never read Pelecanos than you have surely been missing a wonderful literary time. Pelecanos is a rare talent when it comes to making crime novels rise above the level of the mighty airport read. I have never been unhappy by the quality of the stories or action and that is doubly true with What it Was – his latest contribution to the crime genre.
Derek Strange returns as a retired cop and becomes a private detective in this noirish new work. The book is a non-stop action in the hard-boiled world that Pelecanos has created. Much like his tv work – there are no compromises in story or content - A very adult book that will please you – make sure not to miss it. (less)