September 16, 2008

Booksmart - Picks

1) Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolano (fictional biographical encyclopedia) — At first, I thought of William Carlos Williams, only darker, hilarious and obsessed with literary criticism. But by the end, it is obviously Bolano. Now I have to read “Distant Star” (and wait for “2666,” coming out Nov. 11). —Jason Brown

2) The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass (novel) — One of my top 10 favorites of all time. A profoundly moving, painful and, at times, incredibly funny novel. Oskar is a young boy in Nazi Germany who literally won’t grow up (he stays three feet tall by force of will) and sees the horrors of the 20th century through a child’s clear vision. Must read. —Jonathan Hawpe

3) Boone: A Biography by Robert Morgan (nonfiction) — This biography reads almost exactly like a novel — the author is, in fact, a respected novelist — because Daniel Boone is a larger-than-life character whose adventures and exploits live up to the legend. —Michael Boggs 

4) Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris (novel, new in paperback) — Ferris’ debut is a cynical look into the American workplace (office or otherwise), set near Chicago around the year 2000. It is funny, sapient and ultimately sweet. See also: Don DeLillo’s “Americana.” —Jason Brown

5) An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England by Brock Clarke (novel, new in paperback) — Meet Sam Pulsifer, a pathetic, lying, accidental arsonist. After 10 years in prison for accidentally burning down the Emily Dickinson house, he’s freed. Soon someone begins burning down other famous writers’ homes across New England. Is it Sam? —Miranda Boggs