Two of the books published in November made my “Sunday Caught My Interest Post” of last week: The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Englemann and Lunch with Buddha by Roland Murello. In addition, Ian McEwan has published his latest novel Sweet Tooth and Barbara Kingsolver published her latest, Flight Behavior. I have heard really good things about Flight Behavior so it will be on my list. I am hit or miss with McEwan so I am holding off on that one for now. Phillip Pullman, author of the Dark Materials Trilogy, retells fifty of his favorite Grimm fairy tales in Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version offering his own perspective and brief commentary after each tale.
Scholar and biographer Anka Muhlstein (author of Balzac’s Omelette) has written a new examination of Marcel Proust, Monsieur Proust’s Library. Muhlstein looks at reading within Proust’s work as well as the literature Proust read. My mother is always trying to get me to read Proust and I have struggled with his work – perhaps this book is a way to ease into the author. A second introduction to a great author comes with Jacqueline Raoul-Duval’s book Kafka in Love. Roul-Duval follows Kafka’s long distance love affairs with four women. This unique biography is part factual (based on letters and journals) and part imagined.
In Greater Depth:
The Shortest Way Home by Juliette Fay: Coming home after thirty years in both war and disaster zones, Sean finds his family in their own personal disaster zone. Huntington Disease runs in his family and his aunt is showing signs. His nephew is raising himself, and Sean’s sister has run away from home. After years of avoiding family, Sean finds himself right in the thick of it finding himself by connecting with his past and his family. This one may be a good book group book with many possible topics of discussion.
Norah Piehl of The Bookreporter writes: Fay’s novel certainly offers many opportunities for fruitful discussion about topics as varied as family loyalty, genetic destiny, responsibility, the duties of friendship and the strength of faith. It’s also interesting to see how Fay writes from a male point of view, as well as how she continues to develop the town she first explored in SHELTER ME. Full of humorous and tender moments as well as subtle revelations, THE SHORTEST WAY HOME is a quietly powerful exploration of one man’s journey back to himself.
The Light of Amsterdam by David Park: December in Amsterdam and three pairs are touring the city: a father and his son, a mother and her daughter, and husband and wife on a weekend getaway. As the pairs criss-cross the city, each as to deal with their insecurities and how those insecurities impact their sense of self and their relationships. This book hit my radar as soon as I started reading about it on European blogs – many of the reviewers I respect have raved about this book so it is on my list for sure.
Dovegrey Reader writes a beautiful review of the novel (a review well worth reading in its own right) stating: The Light of Amsterdam, and now the title becomes clear, is beautifully paced and structured, lives glance across each other, touch briefly usually at moments of reflection when people have time to notice those around them, and all those human responses to transition, change, threats and getting older, as well as the fragility yet corresponding robustness of family, are perfectly and seamlessly addressed. David Parks writes with enormous sensitivity and emotional acuity, this is proper storytelling at its very best.