My, What a Novel Idea
Okay, so by this time you’ve gone through
all those cotton candy summer beach reads. Sure, they were fun,
but now you’re ready for some substance and maybe a little
something out of the ordinary, right? I went back to some of the
writers I’ve recently talked to for City Type for recommendations
that could carry you straight through to fall.
Kim Ablon Whitney is the author of young adult novels See You Down
the Road and The Perfect Distance, which will be published this
fall. She suggests The Cuban Prospect by Boston native Brian Shawver,
which she says is especially great for the baseball season.
Tom Daley, poet and poetry teacher, offers these three picks: One
Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw by
Witold Rybczynski. A book for the general reader interested in the
history of science and tools, with fascinating digressions into
the lives of inventors such as Archimedes. Beatrice Chancy by George
Elliott Clarke, a verse play that tells the harrowing tale of the
daughter of a white Nova Scotian slaveowner and his African slave
in the Canada of the early 19th century. Letter to an Imaginary
Friend by Thomas McGrath, an autobiographical book-length poem and
a tumultous, heady narrative of growing up in the plains of the
Edith Pearlman, whose most recent short story collection is How
to Fall, suggests
St. Exupery, by Stacey Schiff, a biography of the pilot and writer
that is eloquent and irresistable; and two novels, Fingersmith,
by Sarah Waters and The Shroud, by John Banville, which is dark
Prabakar T. Rajan, author of the poetry collection, Leaving Ripples,
offers two recommendations, Elaine Pagel's The Gnostic Gospels,
a fascinating glimpse at early Christianity but also sits with the
largerquestion of the tensions between different approaches to God;
and a novel by Walker Percy called the Moviegoer, a very sad, strange,
unusual book, with richly odd and quirkily endearing writing.
Jane Holtz Kay, author of Asphalt Nation and Lost Boston, recommends
Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists and
Activists Are Fueling the Climate Crisis--And What We Can Do to
Avert Disaster, by Ross Gelbspan, an enlightening book on the problem
of the day or, more aptly, eons: global warming. His book is a thoughtful,
intelligent analysis of the problem, told in clear, political activist
Philip Nikolayev, author of the poetry collection Monkey Time suggests
Glyn Maxwell's latest poetry collection, The Sugar Mile and Claire
Messud's The Last Life(cq), both superb books.
Katia Kapovich, poet and author of Gogol in Rome, recommends The
Irresponsible Self. On Laughter and the Novel, by James Wood, a
collection of essays on difficult and fascinating writers and poets
that uses modes of laughter as a litmus test to draw a line between
the old and modern nove. She also suggests Wake up, Sir! by Jonathan
Ames, which takes place in the artists’ colony Yaddo and says
she was happy for a week while reading it.
I recommend these wonderful short story collections by Boston-area
writers: Calamity and Other Stories, by Daphne Kalotay; On the Nature
of Human Romantic Interaction, by Karl Iagnemma; How to Fall, by
Edith Pearlman; and The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories, by Steve
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can see past City Type columns at www.ellensteinbaum.com.