May 2005

Lots of good novels these past couple of months. And, wonder of wonders, two works of nonfiction. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson I decided to reread this because I kept insisting to people that I thought it was so much better than Gilead, but then I realized that I couldn't actually recall much of it. I was right.

The Body of Jonah Boyd by David Leavitt This was a fun read. He's a terrific writer and I enjoyed this book tremendously.

Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller Sue Miller is one of my role models. She concentrates on similar themes - family, love, loss. And tries to do so without being either trite or maudlin.

The Provincial Lady in America by E.M. Delafield I read this long ago (in college) and found it delightful then. I reread it because I was lucky enough to be compared to her in the New Yorker. A very flattering comparison.

The New Confessions by William Boyd One of the things I love about Boyd is that he writes about a character's whole life. He doesn't shy away from taking on decades and decades. You can immerse yourself in his novels, knowing you'll get the entire story.

Frangipani by Célestine Hitiura Vaite I enjoyed reading about Tahiti, a place I knew almost nothing about.

Inconsolable: How I threw my Mental Health Out With the Diapers by Marrit Ingman I love a bitter, angry mom. Especially if she's funny.

Josie and Jack by Kelly Braffet Delightfully creepy and weird.

Saturday by Ian McEwan He's such a confidant and masterful writer, even when his stories tumble to a plot-filled close. I kept stopping and reminding myself to watch what he did and try to emulate it.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (picnic, lightning) my God. I read this in high school (of course). And cannot believe I didn't reread it until now. There really is no one like him.

Fraud by David Rakoff I embarrassed myself on a plane by bursting out laughing over and over again. My seat-mates thought I was crazy.

Rape: A Love Story by Joyce Carol Oates Again, to be in the hands of a such a master is a totally different experience. She's just so confident, so assured.

Pearl by Mary Gordon Well, this left me entirely cold. I'd be interested to know what other Jews thought of it. The portrayal of the Jewish converts to Catholicism was downright bizarre.

The Failures of Integration: How Race and Class Are Undermining the American Dream by Sheryll Cashin After reading this book I felt like I had to sell my house and move to a more integrated neighborhood. Thank God my kids go to an integrated school. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.