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Good Books

I went through a dry spell for awhile, where nothing I read knocked my socks off. Then I got lucky and happened across a couple of good reads.

Michael Chabon’s essay collection Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son, which came out last year, delighted from start to finish. Chabon combines a light-hearted, witty tone with serious insights and real emotions. In each essay, he examines some aspect of masculinity, and I loved his portraits of his children — affectionate but not cloying. In one essay near the end, “Xmas,” he explicates the meaning of Christmas (he a non-observant Jew) more graciously than any believer I’ve read. This book got me through three hours in a dentist’s chair.

Then, Claire Keegan’s recent New Yorker story “Foster” inspired me to request one of her collections. Walk the Blue Fields (2008) did not disappoint. Even though I had just finished reading a collection by Alice Munro, Keegan did not suffer by comparison. Her stories are not as elliptical as Munro’s, but she holds back information in a comparable way and surprises you as the story progresses. Where Munro stories take ninety-degree turns, Keegan’s slide along in gracefully unexpected curves.

I also enjoyed Parallel Play, a memoir by Tim Page. Page is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning music critic who also helped bring the fiction of Dawn Powell to public attention. He received a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome at the age of 45, and his book chronicles his difficulty in navigating school and relationships. He describes music evocatively.

So what have you read lately?

One Comment

  1. midge wrote:

    Just finished Unaccustomed Earth for book group…loved the title story, but I must confess i got a bit bored and had to be convinced by group-mates to finish it. I’m glad I did. almost the same way I felt about Clear Light of Day…never would have picked it up (let alone buy it)…never would have finished it without book group and public libraries
    Next book group book is Reluctant Fundamentalist..do you know it?
    m

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 11:48 am | Permalink

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