In the preface of her novel Y, Marjorie Celona writes about that perfect letter. "The wishbone, fork in the road, empty wineglass. The question we ask over and over... Coupled with an L, let's make an adverb... a Greek letter (that) joined the Latin alphabet after the Romans conquered Greece in the first century--a double agent: consonant and vowel. No one used adverbs before then, and no one was happy."
A friend saw me reading Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and asked what I thought about the magical realism in the novel. I don't read dust jackets before beginning books, so I have to admit that I was a little disappointed to learn I had selected a title with any enchantment attached.
While you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, the illustration on the cover of the The News from Spain by Joan Wickersham is somewhat telling of what's inside. A single red ribbon on a black background ties each of the stories together through theme and repeated phrases. The ribbon flows with no bows or knots, bleeding off the page. Similar in design, these stories are not wrapped in tidy packages. Sometimes they begin with no introduction and end abruptly, leaving the reader to speculate about what will happen next.
With the London games looming, it’s difficult not to catch Olympic fever. After reading Chris Cleave’s Gold, I’ll be paying closer attention to the cycling events. Sprint. Individual pursuit. These were the races vividly portrayed in this story about Zoe, Kate and Jack: three cyclists who met each other on the same day when they were 19; and how their odd little triangle of love and friendship developed over the next 13 years, through victories and defeats in Athens, Beijing, and potentially London.
Jess Walter’s novel, Beautiful Ruins, is entertaining, but the work seems scattered because the author has so many people and narrative styles running through it that the reader loses sight of a main character.
I’m a sucker for a good prep school story. I’m not sure if it’s the promise of knowledge there for the taking, secret societies, or general student angst that usually leads me to those books, but there was something unique about Elizabeth Percer’s debut novel, An Uncommon Education. The education of Percer’s brilliant protagonist, Naomi Feinstein, was not provided by private boarding schools. Her “preparatory” education came from her father, who recognized early that his daughter could remember everything she ever read.