Thanks to a suggestion made by a faithful reader, I have a plan for ameliorating the small "d" dilemma referenced in my March 23 post. Fair warning to readers not as passionate about books as me: Over the next few weeks, any post you see entitled Book Backlog, don't bother opening.
Like today's post - the first of four - each one
will contain three brief paragraphs like those below, each gushing about a book I finished over the first three fertile reading months of 2023. I can recommend all twelve almost without reservation. After the bell sounds on the fourth post, my book backlog should be exhausted, theoretically, and my blog can then return to its usual ratio of about one in five posts being devoted to literature. The opening triple now awaits the hungry eyes of my fellow bookworms.
1.) No One Left to Come Looking for You (2022) - Sam Lipsyte: Grabbed in a pure library drive-by, i.e., I had no prior knowledge of the book or its author, this profane, funny, and sharply written suspense novel spends a few days on the grimy edges of New York City's music scene in early 1993. Remember when our ex-tweeter-in-chief was just a smarmy real estate snake? Lipsyte does, giving Agent Orange a plausible and priceless cameo in his gritty gem. You'll race through this, I promise.
2.) On Critical Race Theory (2022) - Victor Ray: Piece by piece, this important and timely volume takes apart all the misinformation modern-day demagogues have been feeding to their echo chambers for years about the aims of critical race theory. Tracing the long line of scholarship that preceded him, Ray painstakingly outlines why critical race theory matters and why we should care.
3.) The Sympathizer (2015) - Viet Thanh Nguyen: What is a book signaling when the sub-title on its cover states "A Novel"? The details in this harrowing tale are rendered with such precision, I find it improbable to imagine the un-named first person narrator and author as different people. In the end, this masterful meditation on memory, remorse, and the consequences of decisions made both by individuals and nations asks many questions but provides no easy answers. Take your time with this one.