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After I read it, I could do nothing else. Europa Editions for the holidays. It is, among other things, an inspiring self-help book. A couple of days later, I was at the mall with my mom, and split with her to go into the bookstore remember when malls had bookstores? Do I even need to tell you? I hid behind my bed in Maine with a stack of John Grisham paperbacks by my side, to make a quick switch in the event that my parents walked in and caught me. Little did I realize that they were also Bukowski fans and would have approved.

Oh, well. In my junior year of high school, I took a course called 20th Century Literature. For our final project, we had to choose a novel and read it on our own. I also had to hand in a final project that day based on the book. Totally weak on my part. Yeah, I still hang my head in shame. Dumbass, dumbass, dumbass…. I found it devastating: apt on every page, poetic, just the right kind of melancholy. It is more allegory than parody. The protagonist, if you can call him that, Jed Martin, is a contemporary artist who produces a new body of work about once every ten years.

This seems realistic. The concentrated level of desire required to make art is rare. Some of these groups of work become phenomenally successful. Jed Martin is a contemporary conceptual artist driven by an antiquated modernist ethos stripped of all romance. That is: his desultory process is authentic. They are unsentimental elegies to the destruction of experience that began a hundred years ago but is still acutely felt today. I always end up buying stuffed animals, too, because I love them. What I loved about these books was that they were funny.

But Conford books were light without being at least to a year-old lightweight. Speaking of which, there are probably lots of books that I think I read when in fact I only saw the movie. Somebody deliver it for me, or something most like it. Lindbergh, the famed aviator and suspected Nazi sympathizer, had won the Republican nomination in and went on to become president? What if the United States had not entered the war against Hitler, and, by means of discriminatory policies swaddled in patriotism, became a fascist state? We experience the effect of this disastrous turn of events on a small Jewish family in Newark, people who think of themselves as nothing but ordinary Americans.

By changing a relatively small number of historical details, Roth creates a whole new reality, all too chilling for its plausibility.

Heath Lowrance: My Choices for Top Ten Western novels you need to read

The novel is meant to be a work of reimagined history, but, given the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe and the United States over the last decade, I also read it as a work of speculative fiction, one in which another group of Semites could just as easily have been the target. I only hope he writes more before I get to the end. Still, we dither. Just waiting for my moment! In hindsight, it was my desire to appease this imposing ghost that drove much of my mid-twenties reading list.

Here was the buried question: Is there a relationship between literary heft and literal weight? It can be a very peculiar type of joy. A long book is a friend.

A New Life in Seattle

What I have to offer, then — as the year ends and we make promises of self-improvement — is an absolution: Dispense with the guilt of the unfinished. Concentrate, instead, on choosing your few friends — and then loving them dearly.


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Back then my favorite books were all about lonely children who in their wanderings happened across a mysterious portal that allowed them to slip away from the drab everyday and into some brighter, more exhilarating world. The first pages of the latter are composed entirely of prologues, more than fifty of them. Endless doorways: what more could anyone ask for? Which depresses me no end. What did I say about list-making? I had begun writing, studying with the remarkable writer and teacher, Jim Krusoe, and he recommended that I read her.

However, there was a catch. The original tenant said she needed to return to the apartment once a week for two hours to iron. It is a testament to how much I wanted the apartment that I agreed to this arrangement. But back to Alice. Alice Munro writes digressive, sprawling stories, sometimes as long as forty pages.

Her ability to inhabit a personal world, reveal character, and illuminate emotion with heart-stopping precision showed me what was possible in scope and scale in a short story. She made me want to take risks in my writing. There is a great deal that is left unsaid in her stories, what is most important usually lies beneath the text. Alice Munro is a master of revealing how we make choices, how we all struggle towards insight and revelation. Her stories rarely end with a clear conclusion. Instead they land on a question or possibility. I discovered the book facedown on the floor, where I imagined she had fallen asleep, reading.

I am comforted by the idea that whenever we read a book, legions of others are also reading it, maybe at the very same moment, even if they claim to be ironing. Everything a book should be. Once described as a cross between Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Blogger on folklore and former ghost hunter. Working on a PhD about haunted house films! Email her here to get in touch!

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Second, each episode takes the boy, then the young man, closer to his dream of becoming El Rey—and our better understanding how he acquired this dream. And, oh yeah: RB's a stone killer with action. Michael Prescott. Not long afterwards, though he'd published a number of novels and received some terrific reviews, his numbers failed to satisfy the new masters of the game. So Prescott was sent to The Desert, where other fallen gladiators licked their wounds and cursed their fates. But, luckily for all of us, Prescott wasn't finished yet. This book offers a sizzling intro to an exceptional talent.

Prescott raises expectations artfully, then bounces them hard off the walls. But wait.

Cash Laramie & Gideon Miles Series

Now the killer in turn's being hunted by—eh? A woman who's a murderer too and is connected in some way? Once Prescott has our attention with the pulp-style opening, the style becomes more elegant, more seductive, and the tale takes delightful turns into police procedural, psychological study and even budding love story.

No more spoilers. Read and love this novel—and hang on to your faces. John A. Once upon a time, an acclaimed Scottish short story writer wrote four novels with high hopes The engine of the novel is meticulously crafted: Ford, and his wife are run off the road by a joyriding punk and his pal. Ford's wife dies and he spends six-odd weeks in a coma. While he sleeps, bad trouble brews: the bird-faced punk, Jimmy McCallum, and his burly friend Robert fear that Ford may remember their faces.