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Showing posts from March, 2010

Old Mr. Flood by Joseph Mitchell

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Old Mr. Flood by Joseph Mitchell Foreword by Charles McGrath (MacAdam Cage hardcover edition, April 2005) Shop Indie Bookstores A wise bookseller once taught me that right after reading something really, especially good, it's a good idea to read something completely different, as a sort of palate cleanser. After The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and The Passage , I felt the need to read something that was definitively not a big fat novel of an unfamiliar world. Luckily, my hand trailing over the unread riches of my bookshelves landed on Old Mr. Flood . As a small collection of three short semi-nonfictional pieces about a downtown New Yorker, it was exactly what I had been wanting. For some inexcusable reason I had never read Joseph Mitchell before, though he's one of those authors you feel you know all about without reading him (the same way I thought, mistakenly, that I knew what Michaelangelo's David looked like before I saw the real thing). Apparently h

The Passage by Justin Cronin

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The Passage by Justin Cronin (Ballantine, June 2010) Shop Indie Bookstores Reading Justin Cronin's The Passage was a wonderfully weird experience in so many ways. For one thing, there had been foreshadowing for weeks: my business partner, my Twitter friends, fellow booksellers, the Winter Institute buildup, EVERYTHING and everyone seemed to be telling me to read this book. Not only was it being read by everyone whose tastes I share, it sounded like just the sort of thing I would like. Literary adventure with a soup├žon of the supernatural? Yes please thankyou. Weirder though, I'd read Justin Cronin's previous book The Summer Guest -- way back when, when I was young and poor enough to need the $45 they could pay me, I even reviewed it for Publishers Weekly (login required, sorry). I loved that novel, a piercing but gentle story of a family and its secrets over a summer at a fish camp. But it was a leetle hard to picture that rather quiet literary writer pennin

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (Random House, June 2010 ) Shop Indie Bookstores Anyone who has ever read my blog, or ever met me, stands a good chance of having heard me talk about David Mitchell. It's rather satisfying, at my age, to have discovered my Favorite Living Writer. Ever since Cloud Atlas left me slack-jawed and inarticulate with its puzzle structure and fearlessly ambitious plots and astonishing humor and humanist compassion and heartbreaking truths -- okay, even before that, when I snapped up Ghostwritten and Number Nine Dream with the satisfaction of finding just what one wanted to eat, a meal that becomes a sweet memory -- and especially afterward, when I met the man at book readings for Cloud Atlas and Black Swan Green and he turned out to be the kind, brilliant, self-effacing person you hope in your heart of hearts that your favorite authors might turn out to be -- David Mitchell has been my model for what writing and writers can