SPRING BOOKS (MOTLEY)

Elena Ferrante’s 6 novels are painful, searing, addictive reading. Love. Can’t wait for the seventh novel (fourth after the Neopolitan trilogy.)

Grace Paley, Enormous Changes at The Last Minute. This is possibly my favorite book of stories and one I read first at age 17. The range of approaches to the short story in one collection is so impressive and her voice in inimitable.

Julie Lythcott Haimes, How to Raise an Adult. I read this is 2 sittings amazed by how much a I “over-parent.” Every once in a while a book captures the cultural zeitgeist. This is that book right now.

Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson. This wildly prolific young-adult writer composed a beautiful autobiography in verse. I was moved to see the way her personal life and the cultural shift in our country around race, from the early to late sixties, meld. Being white, I didn’t personally feel that shift when I was a child. I was moved by seeing the world through her lens.

Crossing to Safety, William Stegner. Uncanny resemblances to writers and academics I know (and we are) although I wondered whether the book defines a moment in history or is perhaps dated.

Gawande, On Being Mortal. This is classic book group fare with ready made—although beautifully written—timely topics for discussion.

Will Schwalbe, The End of Your Life Book Club – I’m not one to get depressed by reading about sad or difficult topics but I was admittedly laid low by reading this second book about dying so close to the last one on the same topic.

Ian McEwan, The Children Act. I nearly always love an Ian McEwan novel; short, intense, topical, shapely and elegant as ever.

Per Peterson, Out Stealing Horses. Blown away by the simplicity of the prose and then the violence and the pattern of the two throughout.

All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr. Reminicsent of The English Patient. (Haven’t finished this one yet.)

Sarah Manguso, Ongoingness. I loved this memoir about keeping a diary simply for its prose. The topic itself sounds deadly and solipsistic but in the right hands it’s fascinating. Nell Zink, The Wallcreeper. Refreshingly harsh, ex-patriotic, daring—alert, women have sexual feelings and have affairs—and original in style. Despite this, I felt the artifice of a writer forcing herself to make a novel out of vivid strands. Still I’m excited for her next book, Mislaid.

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What’s at stake in this novel is the simple happiness of our struggling writer protagonist. Love and work are what she seeks and there’s no “hook” more complicated than human fulfillment in this beaut

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