Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sunday Book Coveting

Last Sunday I was busy reading for the read-a-thon. (I am yet to post the reviews and have not read anything other than random poetry the whole of the week). This Sunday I am back at the Sunday Book Coveting post. The following books are coveted after reading about them in the New York Times online.

1) LAISH By Aharon Appelfeld:

Aharon Appelfeld’s latest novel, “Laish,” is a story of pilgrimage, then, and, as in all pilgrimages, what matters most is reaching the goal, sustaining faith through the travails of the journey. The stopping ­places, the pauses, the tests of faith, the perils to be overcome, count for very little, so long as they are survived; they are merely stages on the road to salvation.

2) WHAT GOES ON : Selected and New Poems, 1995-2009 By Stephen Dunn.
A typical Dunn poem opens up a basic human trouble — a body souring with age, a marriage souring with regret, a believer souring with doubt — meditates on it with equal parts seriousness and good humor, and finally offers not quite consolation but acceptance, a sense of having gained some measure of dignity simply by looking life in the eye.

3) SESTETS By Charles Wright.

Wright’s poems don’t bear down toward conclusions, they expand and evanesce as if in a valiant, impossible effort to comprehend and demonstrate Wittgenstein’s dictum that “the world is all that is the case.” Wright’s new collection of short poems is less a book unto itself than the next installment in a continuous poem he’s been writing for 40-odd years.


In “The Possession of Mr. Cave,” Matt Haig takes on the unspeakable terrors. In fact he stacks the deck with them: the narrator’s mother dead by suicide, his wife dead at the hands of a burglar and — in the chilling, riveting, heartbreaking scene that opens the novel — his son, Reuben, dead by a stupid attempt to curry favor with bullying peers. What’s left? And how to find a reason to continue living in the face of grief? These are the initial questions that face Terence Cave, a man who restores antiques but cannot preserve the well-being of those he loves most.

What’s left, it turns out, is Reuben’s 15-year-old twin sister, Bryony. So Terence, fearful and bereft, dedicates himself to his daughter’s well-being. Yet the question of what constitutes a 15-year-old’s well-being and what a father’s protection entails, or should entail, is at the heart of this complex novel.

5) HOW IT ENDED, New and Collected Stories By Jay McInerney

“How It Ended: New and Collected Stories” assembles much of the short fiction Jay McInerney has written over the course of a career now approaching three decades’ duration. The better part of “Model Behavior: A Novel and Stories” is included, along with the story that grew into his Salinger­ian first novel, “Bright Lights, Big City,” as well as “Smoke,” which introduced Russell and Corrine Calloway, the Manhattan couple-with-­everything whose marital vicissitudes animate McInerney’s two most ambitious novels, “Brightness Falls” and its sequel, “The Good Life.” Short stories “often turned out to be warm-up exercises,” McInerney confides in a preface. “There’s psychological as well as practical value in using one as a sketch for a novel; the idea of undertaking a narrative of three or four hundred pages, which might consume years of your life, is pretty daunting.”