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Monday, December 14, 2020

The Twist

On one side was Covid-19 and some pressing family issues. On the other was jubilation on November 7th and a bounty of great books. 2020 was the first year since its inception that made me sometimes wish my blog was dedicated to literature alone. I could have easily published forty additional posts this year and still not properly evangelized on behalf of every praiseworthy book I finished. What year of your reading life rivals my 2020?

OK, you twisted my arm. Here's four of the most recent I consumed that are worth your time, with an eye toward some different tastes.

* Like books based on real incidents or people? Call The Nickel Boys (Colson Whitehead) or The Cool Millions (Jess Walters) historical fiction, if you must. I'd say doing so is way too reductive because both these winners are more nuanced, better written, and much richer than most books from that ill-defined, frequently soapy genre.  

* Detective/crime story more up your aisle? Pick up Snow by John Banville. Although you'll feverishly turn those pages, you'll also learn about class distinctions and the stranglehold of the Catholic church in mid-century Ireland. And, if you like re-visiting characters, I suspect you'll be on the lookout for future Banville books featuring Chief Inspector St. John (pronounced "Sinjun") Strafford.   

* How about short stories? Saying Olive, Again (Elizabeth Strout) isn't quite as good as its award-winning predecessor (Olive Kitteridge) is like saying In My Life isn't quite as good as If I Fell. I mean, it may be true, but it's beside the point. Both books - and all thirteen stories in each- are excellent, as are both songs. 

Glad to share more from this stellar year if anyone twists my arm some more.   


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