Randy Kraft’s OC Book Blog: Welcome to a New Year of Great Reading

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Randy Kraft Reads More

By Randy Kraft

 

Many wonderful writers publishing these first few months – novels, short stories, essay, true crime and memoir – and many candidates for book groups. Here’s a sampling.

 

Tessa Hadley, Late in the Day

A terrific writer, this novel is all about relationships, past and present, and the impact of grief. Reminiscent of Crossing to Safety by Stegner.

 

Kristen Roupenian, You Know You Want This

Author of the internet-sensation New Yorker story, Cat Person, this first collection of stories is even darker — disturbing to the point of perverse. I read only three; that was enough for me. Might interest you or might be the most overrated debut in years.

 

Dani Shapiro, Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love

Shapiro has mined her life often in memoir and fiction, and still new revelations keep it interesting. She will read at Laguna Beach Books on February 15th.

 

Claire Adam, Golden Child

A wow debut novel of a family’s coming to terms with twin sons, one of whom is born challenged and stays a challenge, but only when he goes missing do we begin to understand why. A touching and insightful work of fiction that feels real.

 

Robert Bolano, The Spirit of Science Fiction

For the Bolano fans, from a world far, far away.

 

Elizabeth McCracken, Bowlaway

Might be the zaniest premise of a novel ever – McCracken loves to explore whacky characters. (Remember the Giant’s House?) This one lands on earth with a bowling ball!

 

Leila Aboulela, Elsewhere, Home

A new master of the short story, she writes about what it means to be an immigrant in a wider world. Great characters.

 

Jill Abramson, Merchants of Truth

Former editor of the New York Times follows four news agencies over the last decade in their role as keepers of the first amendment. Timely and important.

 

Toni Morrison, The Source of Self-Regard: Essays, Speeches and Meditations

The great one speaks and we reap the rewards of her wisdom.

 

Yuval Taylor, Zora and Langston: A Story of Friendship and Betrayal

Yummy literary gossip.

 

Karl Ove Knausgaard, So Much Longing in So Little Space

The title alone makes it a must read, especially if you love his style and his incessant introspection. This tale weaves in the artist Edvard Munch -– might make you want to scream.

 

Claire Harman, Murder by the Book

Dickens’ London, literary, and literally, true crime. Might be a curl-up-on-a-wintry-night read.

 

Nathan Englander, kaddish.com

A skilled writer with an unusual premise –- can an atheist outsource the mourning of his religious father?

 

Dave Eggers, The Parade

In an un-named middle eastern country, a set of conflicted characters confront conflicting agendas — what Eggers does so well in fiction. Reminds me a little of Hologram for a King, one of my favorites.

 

Siri Hustvedt, Memories of the Future

This lesser-known great brain writes with longing and imagination, and I look forward to this new novel. (And she’s married to the great Paul Auster!)

 

Frederic Tuten, My Young Life

I had the pleasure of meeting this relatively unknown but prolific writer some years ago and I was struck by his literary persona. He’s subtle and quirky, and a closet dreamer. Now he’s written a memoir that sounds as intriguing as his fiction. (He too was born in the Bronx, so we’re kindred spirits.) If you’ve never read The Green Hour, I recommend.

 

Kathryn Davis, The Silk Road

Davis’ writing is enigmatic to the point of metaphysical, sometimes surreal, often allegorical, and I don’t always get it, but she’s always worth a try.

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