The election was yesterday and there are no results so let’s ignore that and talk about books.
These have all been read in the past month/month and a half, and I really went after the Halloween vibe. So aside from the first one, this list trends a little darker than normal.
Very Nice by Marcy Dermansky
A nice, soapy summer read. In fact, a lot of the story takes place around a pool during the summer. Think a modern-day The Last Picture Show/The Graduate set in an upscale commuter town in Connecticut. May not leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, but a nice, easy distraction from the serious shit happening in this dumpster fire of a country every day.
The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels
When I talk to my friends these days about book recommendations, everyone tends to shy away from anything too heavy (see above). For that reason, given the premise of this novel (a young man dying of AIDS in 1986 returns to his home in the midwest following the death of his partner in New York City), I haven’t suggested it to many people. But man I really loved this one. When you feel like you’re in an emotionally stable place, I highly, highly recommend.
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
I was SO excited to get this book (from bookshop.org! Support small book stores!). It was right up my alley. A British murder mystery. Written in 1951, this classic has been heralded by many as the greatest mystery novel of all time. Premise: an investigator confined to a hospital bed pursues the truth about Richard III and the boys in the tower (if you’re familiar with The White Queen, or have any knowledge of the Tudors, you probably know a little bit about the backstory). It is a super interesting story and a real-life mystery that plays a huge role in our current understanding of the royal lineage. The New Yorker had an article a few years ago (prompted by the discovery of the former king’s remains under a parking structure) on the role this particular novel played in altering the public perception of Richard III. So it is through gritted teeth that I say that I found this book to be sort of….a slog. Maybe it was just where I was at the time, maybe my expectations were too high, but it just didn’t do it for me. Maybe I’ll pick it up again in a few years and see if I can become more invested. Because I really, really wanted to love it.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
Ooooooh this is good spoooooooooooky Halloween read. It’s dark. It’s creepy. It’s weird. There are articles upon articles written about the ending. They made a Netflix movie out of it (which I haven’t watched). If you don’t like ambiguous endings, avoid this one. If you like books that have a murky, sinister, wintery feel, go for it.
The Dinner by Herman Koch
Another book made into a Netflix movie that I didn’t know about! This is a Dutch novel that was translated into English in 2013. The entire book takes place over the course of one meal (I’ll let you guess which one). Two grown brothers meet to discuss something involving their children. Secrets trickle out over the course of the meal, along with increasingly unsavory attributes of the attendees and, even more so, the narrator. Unlike Ending Things (above), there is no ambiguity or subtlety to this one. Just barefaced human ugliness. Not a warm fuzzy read.
I have more but 5 is enough for now. Back with more soon.