By Barbara Kingsolver
I’ve already fallen in love with Barbara Kingsolver’s nonfiction writing thanks to her book of essays “Small Wonder,” so I’m excited to dig into her fiction and see if it has the same effect. I admire her ability to give the smallest observation its rightful place in the bigger picture she’s painting–like finding a puzzle piece under the coffee table and using it to complete the whole damn thing.
“Unsheltered” is her new novel about two families in two different centuries living in the same house. One of those families is a modern-day grouping of debt-saddled Baby Boomer parents, disillusioned Millennial daughter, and disabled Greatest Generation grandfather. The other family includes a curious science teacher threatened after discussing the exciting new work of Charles Darwin in class.
“With history as their tantalizing canvas,” reads the book description, “these characters paint a startlingly relevant portrait of life in precarious times when the foundations of the past have failed to prepare us for the future.”
Art imitating life circa 2018, non?
“The Boys of My Youth”
By Jo Ann Beard
“OMG. Have you heard of this book?!”
^ I have been heard asking this throughout my social circles for the past three weeks since uncovering this book of essays, published in 1999, from the lost-in-circulation library heap. Actually, now that I think about it, “The Boys of My Youth” hit my radar courtesy a piece in the latest issue of Creative Nonfiction magazine, in which a contributor praises Jo Ann Beard’s book as something every student-writer must read.
Wowee, what a gift. Beard is brilliant. Her voice is so effortlessly funny (her three-word sentences are witty weapons a post-dial-up humorist would haul 30 in for). But what I love most is how Beard writes memoir in-scene, with remarkable grace. It’s as if she enters another plane, able to look back and from above, to hand down her stories, reported with life-affirming, knot-spotting details she missed the first time around.
I’d recommend this to everyone who loves to read, student-writer or not. I’ll be asking S. Claus for my very own copy this Christmas, too.
“A Manual For Nothing”
By Jessica Anne
This book is a künstlerroman, which is German for artist-novel, which is American for: Anything goes, motha fucka!
That appeals to me, you know? As did the bookstore’s shelf-talker recommendation for it. I haven’t dug into it yet, but lists and poems and assimilations and some real-saucy-but-profound-shit await. A manual for nothing sounds like a manual for everything-I-need-right-now.
P.S. Readers have asked about the desk calendar I feature in this blog post series, and, as the new year approaches, now’s the perfect time to get your own! The monthly pieces are from Linnea Design and the 2019 series is just delightful (that is, as far as I can tell from just glancing at mine… I try not to look at each month until it’s time to slide it into my clear plastic desk frame on the First of Whatever… THRILLING!… Look, I take my kicks however they come. You can use your calendar however you want.) The toy dinosaurs are gifts from my niece and nephew. Good luck finding those (such perfect nieces and nephews and also these exact dinos).
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