It's another rainy Sunday morning in Connecticut. The birds are singing though and I'm hoping the sun with show its face later. One the reading front... I've been leisurely reading LaRose by Louise Erdrich and really enjoying it. Erdrich's writing is wonderful and the story is absorbing. I added LaRose to the "must read" mix this week for anyone not familiar with Louise Erdrich's latest emotional work.
I also squeezed in two other books this week and an AUDIOBOOK. One book was a science fiction novella titled Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (I reviewed it Saturday) that won the Nebula award for best science fiction novella for 2015. I don't read very much science fiction, but the premise sounded interesting (girl runs away from home to experience world and attend the most prestigious university in the galaxy. Encounters alien cultures, finds friendship and must learn to survive in an apocalyptic war she just happened to accidentally fly into on the way to school) The writing was wonderful. The story really held my attention and all of those things made me wonder why I never read science fiction.
The other book I read was a Manga titled I Am a Hero by Kengo Hanazawa. I do read Manga, and I picked this out because I was hearing all sorts of great things about this series that Dark Horse Comics just bought the rights for and was beginning to publish in the States in 2016. This book also won the Shogakukan Manga Award, which is Japanese literary award for Manga series. I Am A Hero is an Omnibus, collecting a couple of the original japanese books in this one big 464 page volume. I'll be reviewing this Manga this week, but my initial thoughts were "why is this the cat's meow" until over half way through the story started to pick up speed and I was wanting to read more, but it ended and the next book is due in October. Oh, what's it about? It's about a Zombie Apocalypse in Japan. Think Walking Dead in Japanese, but there's so much more to it, really. And the artwork is nice, very detailed which is one reason people are raving about it.
Now the audiobook I listened to was Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at The End of the Lane, and it was wonderful!! OMG, it was such a marvelous tale that I wish everyone would listen to it. Neil Gaiman actually read it, played all the characters and did a fantastic job on all counts. Basically a fairy tale in the vein of Grimm's Fairy Tales- you know those dark fairy tales that look innocent enough from the start, but start to turn into a thinly veiled horror story. I'll be reviewing this also this week.
I'm always on the lookout for the next read, though and this week I found 3 books that should really satisfy that need to read... not just anything, but something with a really good story...
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler... From Kirkus Review: An ingénue from the Midwest learns the ways of the world, and the flesh, during her year as a back waiter at a top Manhattan restaurant.
A flurry of publicity surrounded the acquisition of this book, which was pitched by an MFA–grad waitress to an editor dining at one of her tables. Danler’s debut novel takes place behind the scenes of a restaurant in Union Square whose rigid hierarchy, arcane codes of behavior, and basis in servitude and manual labor makes it less like a modern workplace than the royal court of 18th-century France—but with tattoos and enough cocaine to rival Jay McInerney. There’s even a Dangerous Liaisons–type love triangle with the beautiful, naïve young narrator at its apex, batted between the mysterious, brilliant waitress who teaches her about wine and the dissolute, magnetic bartender who teaches her about oysters. The older woman says things like, “I know you. I remember you from my youth. You contain multitudes.” The older man “was bisexual, he slept with everyone, he slept with no one. He was an ex-heroin addict, he was sober, he was always a little drunk.” What 22-year-old could ever resist them? The writing is mostly incandescent, with visceral and gorgeous descriptions of flavors, pitch-perfect overheard dialogue, deep knowledge of food, wine, and the restaurant business, and only occasional lapses into unintentional pretentiousness. From her very first sentences—“You will develop a palate. A palate is a spot on your tongue where you remember. Where you assign words to the textures of taste. Eating becomes a discipline, language-obsessed. You will never simply eat food again”—Danler aims to mesmerize, to seduce, to fill you with sensual cravings. She also offers the rare impassioned defense of Britney Spears.
I've read so many great reviews on this book, that I have now put it on my TBR list. What tempts me is the backdrop of New York and all the wonderful food that fills the pages. This is published by Knopf and will be released May 24th!
The Children by Ann Leary... The captivating story of a wealthy, but unconventional New England family, told from the perspective of a reclusive 29-year-old who has a secret (and famous) life on the Internet.
Charlotte Maynard rarely leaves her mother’s home, the sprawling Connecticut lake house that belonged to her late stepfather, Whit Whitman, and the generations of Whitmans before him. While Charlotte and her sister, Sally, grew up at “Lakeside,” their stepbrothers, Spin and Perry, were welcomed as weekend guests. Now the grown boys own the estate, which Joan occupies by their grace―and a provision in the family trust. When Spin, the youngest and favorite of all the children, brings his fiancé home for the summer, the entire family is intrigued. The beautiful and accomplished Laurel Atwood breathes new life into this often comically rarefied world. But as the wedding draws near, and flaws surface in the family’s polite veneer, an array of simmering resentments and unfortunate truths is exposed. With remarkable wit and insight, Ann Leary pulls back the curtain on one blended family, as they are forced to grapple with the assets and liabilities – both material and psychological – left behind by their wonderfully flawed patriarch.
Again, I've heard lots of great buzz about this book and have put it on my TBR list! Published by St. Martin's Press, The Children will also be released May 24th!
Modern Lovers by Emma Straub... A smart, highly entertaining novel about a tight-knit group of friends from college— and what it means to finally grow up, well after adulthood has set in.
Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring. Back in the band's heyday, Elizabeth put on a snarl over her Midwestern smile, Andrew let his unwashed hair grow past his chin, and Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with. Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity (and start sleeping together), the fabric of the adult lives suddenly begins to unravel, and the secrets and revelations that are finally let loose—about themselves, and about the famous fourth band member who soared and fell without them—can never be reclaimed.
The highly anticipated next novel of Emma Straub has gotten some nice press and what I find appealing is to see how this group of friends navigates being grown up after surviving their youth together, and dealing with the fact that their children have become them. On my TBR list. Published by Riverhead Books and will be released May 31st!
LaRose by Louise Erdrich... An emotionally haunting contemporary tale of a tragic accident, a demand for justice, and a profound act of atonement with ancient roots in Native American culture.
North Dakota, late summer, 1999. Landreaux Iron stalks a deer along the edge of the property bordering his own. He shoots with easy confidence—but when the buck springs away, Landreaux realizes he’s hit something else, a blur he saw as he squeezed the trigger. When he staggers closer, he realizes he has killed his neighbor’s five-year-old son, Dusty Ravich. The youngest child of his friend and neighbor, Peter Ravich, Dusty was best friends with Landreaux’s five-year-old son, LaRose. The two families have always been close, sharing food, clothing, and rides into town; their children played together despite going to different schools; and Landreaux’s wife, Emmaline, is half sister to Dusty’s mother, Nola. Horrified at what he’s done, the recovered alcoholic turns to an Ojibwe tribe tradition—the sweat lodge—for guidance, and finds a way forward. Following an ancient means of retribution, he and Emmaline will give LaRose to the grieving Peter and Nola. “Our son will be your son now,” they tell them. LaRose is quickly absorbed into his new family. Plagued by thoughts of suicide, Nola dotes on him, keeping her darkness at bay. His fierce, rebellious new “sister,” Maggie, welcomes him as a coconspirator who can ease her volatile mother’s terrifying moods. Gradually he’s allowed shared visits with his birth family, whose sorrow mirrors the Raviches’ own. As the years pass, LaRose becomes the linchpin linking the Irons and the Raviches, and eventually their mutual pain begins to heal. But when a vengeful man with a long-standing grudge against Landreaux begins raising trouble, hurling accusations of a cover-up the day Dusty died, he threatens the tenuous peace that has kept these two fragile families whole.
First, Louise Erdrich's writing is beautiful, I am enjoying reading the words that convey such strong emotions. The story is so devastating and yet inspiring. I'll be reviewing this soon, but for now, put this on your TBR list because I think it will be one of this years big hits. It has gotten a lot of positive press and a starred review from Kirkus. Published by Harper and released last week!
That about does it for this Sunday. What have you been reading (or listening to?!) Please share because I'd love to hear about it all!
Happy reading... Suzanne