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Self -Portrait As Your Traitor was full of the best kind of surprises. I thought it was an art book at first glance, but soon realized it was really an elevation of the word - both visually and narratively. The pages are strewn with letters of every color and shape, so you could just gaze at each page as you would a framed painting. But don't just do that, because the words the letters make, and then the resulting sentences that lead finally to the stories must not be missed. Also a plus: there is a great variety here. Some sections are poetic, some are pleasingly down-to-earth. I liked them all so much. Read Lucky, a deceptively simple anecdote that will send a chill down your spine. Read Card Shark, a poem which has a line that I wish I had thought up myself:
"...I give myself away too easily. This I know and figure into the equation as I weigh the simple and the nasty." Finally read Penelope, one of my favorites, whose title page I won't spoil here, but is beautifully wrought. All is all a beautiful and emotional book. I read it through, but I keep picking it up and opening to random pages; it hasn't stopped delighting me.
I am not a big short story reader, but if someone hands me a book and says Read this, I do, dutifully. Usually, I skim at least a few pages so I can pretend I read the whole thing. So it was going to be the same with Stay Up With Me. But by the third page I knew I was in the hands of not only an elegant writer but a really good storyteller, so I stopped skimming, started again, and read it cover to cover (I actually read one story twice, a few days apart, which I never do). I'm not a good reviewer, so I'll give you one line that I loved, which I think sums up how good a writer the author is:" ... You could see my father surrounded by an infield of swooning women." An infield! I loved that. And also this, a really great review by the NY Times that I found later: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/08/books/review/stay-up-with-me-by-tom-barbash.html?_r=1&
Here's what I can say - it seems like a quiet book, but in fact there's a lot of action - people doing things to themselves and others - but it's real, every day action. Not car chases, or gun fights, but the clash of reality against a character's deeper needs. It's mothers and sons, husbands and wives, and - in one of my favorite stories - two young people who are not quite strangers to each other, an icy road, too many drinks. I highly recommend.
I lost my cat a few years ago, and after he returned safe and sound I thought, I'm an expert on this, there's nothing much you can tell me that I don't already know about lost cats - you put up posters, you visit the pound, you call her name, you cry a lot - simple. In fact I picked up How To Find A Lost Cat less to learn something then to exalt in the fact that I too was such an incredible cat whisperer. How wrong I was. How To FInd a Lost Cat is of a different order entirely - full of very insightful action plans, with astute explanations of cat psychology. If your cat is lost, pick up this book immediately. I wish I'd had it when my cat went missing, that's for sure. I realize now that there was so much I should have done differently. I was just lucky that my cat returned safe and sound. But luck often isn't enough when your beloved feline is out there in the great unknown. I've recommended this book to two people who I heard lost cats, and I'll keep recommending it....Read more
i have been interested in the Atavist since it first came out as the new thing in long form journalism. Or, looked at another way, the new thing in short form books. I liked the first few "barticles" I read, but now comes a story that really knocked my socks off. Chris Colin's "Blindsight" tells the story of a man with brain trauma who wants to get back into his old Hollywood life. Colin writes with beauty and inquisitiveness; in fact this should be read simply because in Colin's hands the story is more than the usual Underdog Protagonist on Hero's Journey; we are truly drawn into Simon Lewis' new way of seeing the world. I haven't stopped thinking about this man whose injured brain has rendered him incapable of anger, and who "sees" not with his eyes, but with his subconscious (the "blindsight" syndrome of the title.) I knew the brain was dogged and flexible, but had no idea the lengths it could go to function again. This is a fascinating read....Read more
Moving, imaginative, and a page turner, this book embodies what YA fantasy novels should be about!
I check the credentials before I buy (who can afford to spend money on a bad book??!!), and found out this one's just been nominated by the American Library Association to be the best YA book of this year, which it deserves to win.