As you know, I turned 40 a week or so ago, and I received quite a few gift certificates to Barnes and Noble. Yay! Books! So now, I’m thinking about what books I might like to buy with said gift certificates. Any suggestions? I do prefer paperbacks, because hardbacks take too much space on the bookshelf. One place I like to look for ideas is the employee suggestion page for Powell’s Books. They have some good ones. Some of these are still hardbacks, unfortunately. Here are a few I’m thinking about getting:
Love Walked In
Award-winning poet Marisa de los Santos’s first novel is the story of a 31-year-old cafÃ© manager and an 11-year-old searching for her father, and the unexpected ways in which their lives are forever changed by chance. A cinematic and heartfelt debut that pays homage to the classic romantic comedy The Philadelphia Story, Love Walked In is sure to win over critics and readers of contemporary fiction.
Willful Creatures achieves what many story collections do not: it leaves an emotional impression that transcends the individual stories, but does not erase them. This may explain why her readers are so devoted: we feel as though we’ve witnessed the miraculous rebirth of the short story….Bender’s stories are gothic fiction in which mutation and deformity are the resurrection of hope. Amen.
Alexis M. Smith, Powells.com
My Note: Amee Bender also wrote An Invisible Sign of My Own, which I recently finished…it’s a glimpse into the life of an obsessive/compulsive girl, very strange and well written. I was hooked.
A Star Called Henry
Roddy Doyle writes like nobodyâ€›s business. Each of his titles, from The Commitments (Doyleâ€›s debut) to The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, has earned both critical and popular acclaim. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, his funny, pitch-perfect perspective of a Dublin ten year old, won the 1993 Booker Prize.
Now, in A Star Called Henry, heâ€™s upped the ante tenfold, producing some of the most aggressive prose youâ€™re ever likely to read. Henryâ€™s fatherâ€™s flight, a mere sixty pages into the book, is one of the great narrative achievements of recent years.
But for all Doyleâ€™s narrative acrobatics, his amazing new novel is, more than anything, an enthralling, spilling-over-its-sides story. On page one, Henry Smart introduces himself through the eyes of his pregnant, soon-to-be-mother â€“ right away, Doyle catches us off guard. Compared by some to the expansive fictions of Gabriel GarcÃa MÃ¡rquez, A Star Called Henry presents the years leading up to and following the 1916 Easter Rebellion in a wickedly crooked, dramatic light perfectly suited to the subject. Henry Smart is a big character, bigger than life. “Iâ€™ve always tried to make sure that everything that was said and done could, in fact, happen,” Doyle told Powells.com, “This time around I didnâ€™t give a toss.” Dave, Powells.com
My Note: By the way, Roddy Doyle has written a couple of kids books that Maya LOVES, one of which is titled, “The Giggler Treatment”. My sister, Melissa, hooked Maya up on that one. And actually, the two sequals, which she also loved and is going to write a book report on them. 🙂
I’m torn between “Henry” and “The Woman Who Walked Into Doors”….we’ll see which one I end up with.
Never Let Me Go
Ishiguro’s prose has never failed to dazzle me, and this novel is certainly no exception. With a near stillness, a quiet passivity, Ishiguro’s narrator tells the story of her and her two friends’ eerie predestined fate; a fate that echoes throughout novels such as The Handmaid’s Tale and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. What is revealed here is an important, wistful meditation on life and society. His books are marvels â€” astonishing works of art. Recommended by Georgie, Powells.com
My Note: Kazuo Ishiguro also wrote The Remains of the Day, which was a beautiful book and a pretty good movie as well.
In her follow-up to Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks has taken historical fiction to another dimension altogether. Using America’s Civil War as her frame, she plants a famous (but deeply mysterious) literary figure at its center: Mr. March, the absent father in Louisa May Alcott’s classic, Little Women. The result is a wholly original novel, a rich re-imagining of the nation’s political and literary foundations, and arguably Brooks’s finest work to date. Dave, Powells.com
When the Emperor Was Divine
A breathtaking debut. Also a painter, Otsuka creates complex scenes and well-rounded characters with astonishing efficiency. Line by line her minimalist strokes disguise the massive canvas on which sheâ€›s working: the internment of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans that began on the day after Pearl Harbor. As one Berkeley family is uprooted â€” a mother and her children head off to Utah while the father remains interned in New Mexico â€” questions of loyalty, identity, and suspicion arise. As pertinent today as ever. Recommended by Dave