Here’s another edition of what I’ve been reading lately.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Maddening, heartbreaking, and funny story about a preacher’s family that goes to the Congo in the late 50’s and encounters far more than they bargained for. (It’s the father’s fault.) This is not some White Man’s view, ala Heart of Darkness, of the “savages” of Africa. It’s a generous look at culture-clash and tensions that can ultimately rip a family apart. I had heard about this book but hadn’t had a strong motivation to read it until my wife checked it out of the library. She loved the book and was in thrall to it, so much so that at one key point in the story she cried. After reading it, I understand why.
Zeitoun by David Eggers. Every compliment this book has gotten is well deserved. It’s not flashy in the sense of pyrotechnic prose. It simply tells the story of a Syrian-American contractor as he survives in New Orleans after Katrina, helping others until he and his family get caught in Kafka-hell courtesy of FEMA. Book-length journalism at its best.
Dear Everybody by Michael Kimball. This book was painful to read. Not painful in that it was a horrible book (it’s wonderful and unique). It’s just that there is so much pain to this story about a man who committed suicide. Told through a series of short letters he wrote (but never sent) to every member of his family, his teachers, ex-girlfriends, even the Easter Bunny, the novel tracks his whole life from tragic beginning to tragic end. In between there is humor, sadness, and a struggle to survive. I tore through this book in matter of days.
Oh, and before I forget, here’s a fantastic short story that was published last month in N+1 by Nick Antosca called “Predator Bait”. I have a lot less patience reading stories online than I do in print, but I had no trouble reading this story from start to finish.
P.S. I’m currently reading the latest Book That Can Not Be Avoided: Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I just might add my two cents to the millions that have been thrown on the pile regarding her book. Or I just might keep them to myself. 🙂