First time authors are rarely known to write a truly exceptional book but Lisa Halliday accomplished the nearly impossible when she published Asymmetry: a collection of three short stories, two that appear to be related (Folly and Ezra Blazer’s Desert Island Discs) and one that appears to be asymmetrical but is clearly the star of the show (Madness).
In Folly, Alice, a twenty-something assistant editor at a publishing house in New York City meets Ezra Blazer, an elderly well known and universally respected writer of classic 20th century fiction who has yet to win the Nobel Prize for fiction. Blazer was probably once a player with rugged good looks and a shocking head of thick hair but time has not been kind to the author who complains about back pain, his heart problems, and the other ailments that haunt the elderly. Read more
Never run in town or people’ll think you stole something.
Where the Crawdads Sing is the first book of fiction published by Delia Owens, an author known more for the non-fiction books (The Eye of the Elephant, Cry of the Kalahari, and Secrets of the Savanna) she co-authored with Mark Owens about her experiences as a wildlife scientist in Africa. With the same attention to detail and observation made in previous books, Owens writes a coming of age novel about a young girl growing up in the marshlands of North Carolina in the 1950’s and 60’s, which is rumored to be partially autobiographical. Read more
Have you ever thought that maybe you should just let them go?
In the introduction of Educated by Tara Westover, the author is careful to write “This story is not about Mormonism. Neither is it about any other form of religious belief” but after reading the book, I wonder how anyone could not think that Mormonism (or any faith that is patriarchal) not be a big part of the story? When a child is taught in Sunday school and by her father that “in the fullness of time God would restore polygamy, and in the afterlife, she (sic) would be a plural wife,” the message is clear, even to a child: submit and behave according to our standards and you can be a part of this family. Do otherwise, and you are a sinner and unwelcome. Read more
When serious illness strikes the young, we are often drawn to their story while feeling thankful a different fate awaits us. Such was how I felt when I read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow, and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.
In Pausch’s book, the authors focused on big life lessons after Pausch was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer while Kalanithi’s book focused on how he spent the limited amount of time he had left, which included living in the moment with the people – his wife, daughter, parents, brothers, friends, and colleagues – who made his life meaningful, after being diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer at the age of 37. Read more
It’s been said that we don’t change when we see the light, but when we feel the heat.
Those are the words of Dr. Garth Davis, MD – a board-certified surgeon – who specializes in bariatric surgery in Asheville, NC. Prior to moving to Asheville in 2018, Dr. Davis was the medical director of the Davis Clinic at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. A graduate of University of Texas in Austin, and the Baylor School of Medicine, Dr. Davis completed his surgical residency at the University of Michigan. Read more
He’s not the richest or the most famous. His characters don’t solve mysteries, have magical powers or live in the future…but he shows us the way we live now.
Lev Grossman wrote those words for the cover of the August 23, 2010 cover of Time magazine, calling Jonathan Franzen “the great American novelist.” In the midst of the great recession when most people were thinking about the economy, unemployment, and the sinking real estate market, America needed a hero and with the recent publication of Franzen’s fourth novel, Freedom, Time magazine found their guy but fell short of naming him “Man of the Year” for writing what most critics considered great literature. Read more
The best children’s books are those that are both written and illustrated to communicate a cultural issue that allows children to think about what’s being presented to them. These books often display humor or assign human characteristics to animal characters to make children laugh and encourage communication since kids don’t always know how to verbalize what they are feeling. Read more
Seven years ago in 2011, Jennifer Egan was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for A Visit From The Goon Squad (Goon Squad) – a novel that wasn’t typical in its structure or story which left readers perplexed because aren’t novels supposed be about momentum and anticipation? Read more
There is an old Arabic story about a man who hears Death is coming for him, so he sneaks away to Samarra. And when he gets there, he finds Death in the market, and Death says “You know, I just felt like going on vacation to Samarra. I was going to skip you today, but how lucky you showed up to find me! And the man is taken after all.
When the book “Less” by Andrew Sean Greer won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2018, there were generally three camps of people: those who didn’t understand how this book won what many consider the most prestigious annual literary award in the world, those who totally got it, and the rest, myself included who didn’t understand why the book won until they got through most of the book and realized the brilliance is not only the story but also how it was told (note: I didn’t really like the book until I got to the end when the story came together brilliantly). Read more