March 18, 2009

Book: What We're Reading

 1) We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates (fiction) — If ever there was a perfect family, the Mulvaneys were it: parents married, successful and in love, three sons, including a star athlete and a valedictorian, as well as a cheerleader daughter. But that idyllic life unravels when one of their own is victimized, a trauma that leads to years of denial, resentment, rage and ultimately forgiveness. —Sarah Kelley

 

2) The Book of Dead Philosophers by Simon Critchley (non-fiction) — What a wonderful prism through which to get acquainted with great thinkers throughout history. Critchley focuses on how 200 philosophers met their Maker or Undoing or Great Unknown. Ironies and poignancies accumulate, abetted by Critchley’s cleverly skewed sensibilities (e.g., whom to linger on, whether or not they lingered on in life). This is a most palatable pu-pu platter of brain food. —T.E. Lyons

 

3) Rancid Pansies by James Hamilton-Paterson (novel) — I have yet to read a bad Europa Editions publication. Small, inexpensive and friendly, these books are just great things to have around. If you missed Hamilton-Paterson’s first two books in the riotously funny Fernet-Branca trilogy, go ahead and start with this one, as it’s his best, and you can always backtrack. What’s it about? Here’s a clue: Rancid Pansies is an anagram of … Princess Diana. —Mary Welp

 

4) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (fiction) — I reread this book with my goddaughter not too long ago and soon remembered why I liked it as a child. The sad orphan Mary, left to her own devices with little adult supervision, stumbles upon the hidden treasure of the title. It’s up to Mary and other children she befriends to bring the garden — and each other — back to life. —Jo Anne Triplett

 

5The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence (novel) — Come for the “… tremendous, magnificent rush, so that he felt he could snap off trees as he passed, and create the world afresh.” Stay for “… half the world weeping … at the funeral of the other half.” The great D.H. Lawrence does marriage, family life, urbanization and desperate housewives like no one else. —Jim Welp