Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Larry Watson, MONTANA 1948

A good, small book, told from the perspective of a boy who watches a scandal unfold inside his family. It's short--175 pages--with big themes (race, power, sexuality) and heart--and some beautiful, poetic language.


The usual Grisham, complete with flight from life at the end. My favorite remains The Pelican Brief.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Karen Thompson Walker, THE AGE OF MIRACLES

Walker's first, this is a dystopia novel, told by a nearly-twelve-year-old girl named Julia. (I have one of those.) Very well written and a page-turner ... but it's both a tender and painful coming-of-age story and a fateful warning.  Definitely worth a read.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


The cover is sort of scripty and features a sort of dated painting of the coast of Italy ... and I will admit I am so clueless I thought Jess Walter--the name of the author, written in a pretty yellow script--is a girl--he's not. (I haven't read his other books, but I will.) (Soon.) So I'm thinking something like A SAPPY ROMANCE meets A NOVEL FEATURING A HOT ITALIAN DUDE. Nothing could be further from the truth. This book is powerful, heartbreaking, haunting, and ultimately lovely and even (dare I say) forgiving and sweet. I wouldn't miss this one. It has all the power of ART OF FIELDING (5 stories, 5 wounded people, wound together) and CINEMA PARADISO. When is the last time you saw a novel with Richard Burton as a character? Hands down, one of my favorites of the year. (And I can say that ... now that we're more than half way through November, holy X*%#$.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ashley Prentice Norton, THE CHOCOLATE MONEY

Stayed up last night to finish this compulsively readable novel by an old friend of mine from grad school. Yes, like lots of first novels, it's based in part on her life, and it has all the raw power of memoirs such as DON'T LETS GO TO THE DOGS TONIGHT, GLASS CASTLE, or THE JACKS BANK. It's told in the first person (with dated chapters,  memoir-style) by Bettina, whose narcissistic bitch of a mother Babs is heiress to a chocolate fortune worth $300MM. It traces Bettina from Chicago to a prep school to New York City. It's a brave, fearless book with wry humor; some of her lines just sing, and her imagery (burning, hair, pennies) is like a set of gold threads in a tapestry, holding the book together in a way that transcends plot.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Every since Stieg, the world has a craving for things Nordic! Well, I have to say I loved this one (in its Norwegian translation). It has barely any twists or turns. It's a cozy--all violence happens off-stage. The two murder cases are solved almost too easily (really? the rapist/murderer is spotted in the supermarket?) and yet I didn't care! I found the characters so compelling and the writing so spare and economical and unusual, I didn't put it down.


Ok, every two or three years I have to reread this one. POINTS to anyone who knows Atticus's childhood nickname. : )