August has been relatively quiet here. I finished buying books for the Fall season. Now I finally get a chance to clean up my office which seems empty as many of my co-workers take vacations. Of course this doesn’t mean that I stopped reading of course. To the contrary, I have now finished some of Fall’s biggest books.
- The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides: I’ll just say this. This book is excellent. I don’t know that I’ve read a better coming of age novel in some time now. Eugenides eye for the inner lives of folks seems masterful in this one. I can’t wait to see how it’s reviewed.
- King of the Badgers by Philip Hensher: I followed one truly excellent with another. Hensher wowed me with his Booker nominated The Northern Clemency in 2008. He returns with another tour de force centered around the town of Hanmouth in the west of England. Here he explores the inner lives of the townspeople, what is public and what is so hidden that even those closest to them don’t know about. It’s a remarkable work.
- Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron: This novel follows Jean Patrick Nkuba, a talented Rwandan runner, as he navigates the tensions in his country that constantly threaten to explode–until they finally do. Since you know historically what happens, the amount of tension just keeps climbing as you read on and on. Though I found this novel a bit hyperbolic at times, I found it pretty engrossing.
- Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward: Why I followed one traumatic book with another is beyond me. This one is set during the twelve days before Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf. It’s a rich novel about a poor family in Mississippi struggling to get by. Fourteen year old Esch finds out she’s pregnant while her brother Skeetah can’t seem to keep his pitbull puppies alive. Her older brother Randall tries to get money for basketball camp, while the youngest Junior suffers from the lack of their mother, who died giving birth to him. They’re devotion to one another can’t save them. It’s bleak but a wonderfully written debut novel.
I’m taking a break from all the bleakness with an excellently written thriller by George Pelecanos called The Cut that introduces a new series. So far so good.
When I first read the Eugenides I absolutely agreed with you, but the further away I get from it, the more it seems forgettable. Doesn’t mean I don’t want a signed copy, though! I’ve got Running the Rift in my TBR pile ’cause it looks great. It was probably the book I was most excited about seeing at BEA.