Despite the alluring titles concocted for each of the four posts in this limited run series, I did not entice any sports fans to my blog over this past month; oh well.
Still, with today's three-point shot from half-court, I did accomplish my goal, i.e., gushing about twelve books I finished over the first three months of this year, all worthy of any discerning reader's time and, I left out the duds. With my book backlog now exhausted, I can return to devoting an occasional post to a single book, at least until the next time a surfeit of literary riches comes my way. And so the game ends - at the bell - with these three:
1.) Department of Speculation (2014) - Jenny Offill: Using a series of cryptic anecdotes, this wholly contemporary novel traces the arc of a relationship from inception through its early stages, then moves to marriage and quick parenthood, all in first person. The switch to third coincides with disillusionment; the conclusion is appropriately ambiguous. Easily read in one sitting but warrants extended processing.
2.) The Bone Clocks (2014) - David Mitchell: A kaleidoscopic roller coaster by an author who points the way toward the future of the novel. Holly Sykes - fifteen as the novel opens, in her mid 70s as it concludes - narrates part one and part six. In between, the other four other narrators are closely linked to Holly in Mitchell's masterful mash-up of Faust and Dorian Gray. This book begs to be discussed, but not in a group. Two discerning readers going head-to-head is the only way to do justice to this marvel.
3.) Enemy Women (2002) - Paulette Jiles: Unadorned, unsentimental, unshowy. A great example of a talented author who sees no need to insert herself into the story. In the final, desolate days of the Civil War, a resilient young woman tries to reclaim her family home in southeastern Missouri. The use of actual documents and correspondence opening each chapter - Union and Confederate - sets this quiet novel apart from others in the over-stuffed "historical fiction" niche. No corny dialogue, no exposition overload, no breathy romance; just a compelling tale about a little-known slice of history.