November 2002

I have been a reading machine lately. Comes from having my husband abandon me for what felt like six years, but was really only a couple of months. His tour schedule was brutal...and I'm counting on all of you to make my months of HELL worthwhile by buying his new novel, Summerland. Go on. Get it for your kids for the holidays. You won't be sorry. Wonder When You'll Miss Me by Amanda Davis This wonderful book by my lovely friend Amanda is a fabulous read. I take that back. It's a MUST read. You won't understand this until you read it - but I'll bet I'm not the only one with her very own mean, fat girl talking to her when no one else is around.

Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald The parts that I loved about this book are amazing. Even the parts I didn't love are gorgeously written. I just wish there had been more about Austerlitz, and a bit less about architecture. Child of My Heart by Alice McDermott Well, it's no Charming Billy, but since that's one of the best contemporary novels I've ever read, it seems unfair to hold her to that standard, even if it is her own. The main character was a bit too good to be true, but the writing was pure McDermott - spare and lovely. Three Apples Fell From Heaven by Micheline Aharonian Marcom The story of what the Turks did to the Armenians is truly horrifying - it's almost trite and ridiculous even to say that about the brutal massacre of a million people.

Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles I'm not usually a civil war aficionado, but this book was a fast enjoyable read. What a miserable and depressing time to live through. And what's with the author bio description saying Jiles is a "dual citizen" with U.S. and Canada? Um, call me crazy, but I think that's a ploy to be considered for Canadian and Commonwealth book prizes. Guess what? If you were born in the U.S. and you live in the U.S., your dual citizenship doesn't mean anything. Plus, my father had to renounce his Canadian citizenship to become American. So gimme a break. You Are Not a Stranger Here by Adam Haslett Oh my GOD this young man knows bi-polar disorder like no one else I've ever read. His descriptions of mania and depression are so spot-on it's almost hard to believe. Now, don't you want to know why I know that he knows whereof he writes? Right as Rain by George P. Pelecanos As far as I know, Pelecanos came out of nowhere to become the hugest mystery writer around. Seven books it took him to "hit," so I guess there is hope for me, yet. He's a terrific writer, and (as far as I know) does an amazing job of writing an African-American character. Grim and scary, though. Not for the faint of heart. And icky icky crack house bathroom scene. Worse than the maggot-infested toilet I used once in India.

Circling the Drain by Amanda Davis This is my friend Amanda's wonderful story collection. The last is my favorite, which is lucky because that's what she used as a beginning for her novel! In a Dry Season by Peter Robinson I read this novel because I needed some plot inspiration. He's a good and entertaining writer, but not quite the plotting genius I had hoped. Sweet Dream Baby by Sterling Watson Okay, full disclosure. This is another Sourcebooks writer. You know, the publisher of my new literary novel, Daughter's Keeper. Still and all, you can believe when I tell you this book is lovely, with a spot-on child's voice.

A Little Death by Laura Wilson Spoiler alert!!! Aren't we done with incest yet? Not to belittled the sufferers. But I'm so tired of it as a literary device. His Mother's Son by Cai Emmons Every parent's fear is that their child will grow up bad. This book does a lovely job of describing that. Marriage: A Duet by Anne Taylor Fleming This was on of my favorite books of this list. She's a stupendous writer. If infidelity scares you as much as it does me, you should read this. And if it doesn't, you should read it, too, to see why it should. The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan What a delightful memoir! Now that is a good mother. The White by Deborah Larsen I was really looking forward to this book, and the truth was it was very good. But I wished for more story, and less poetry. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber This was an entertaining novel, but ahem. It's pornography. Really good porn. But still, you should be prepared. And honestly, does he really think that woman is attractive? Peeling lips? No breasts? Rashy rashy skin? Feh.