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?