Monday, June 12, 2017

Reading Material

Continuing with the thrift store shopping I did this weekend, I got a sweet deal on six hardcover novels.  They were fifty cents each.  Fifty cents!  Not that this matters when it comes to used books, but one of them is a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Here's what I got:

by Louis Begley

John North, a prize-winning American writer, is suddenly beset by dark suspicions about the real value of his work. Over endless hours and bottles of whiskey consumed in a mysterious café called L’Entre Deux Mondes, he recounts, in counterpoint to his doubts, the one story he has never told before, perhaps the only important one he will ever tell. North’s chosen interlocutor–who could be his doppelgänger–is transfixed by the revelations and becomes the narrator of North’s tale. 

North has always been faithful to his wife, Lydia, but when one of his novels achieves a special success, he allows himself a dalliance with Léa, a starstruck young journalist. Coolly planning to make sure that his life with Lydia will not be disturbed, North is taken off guard when Léa becomes obsessed with him and he with her elaborate erotic games. As the hypnotic and serpentine confession unfurls, we gradually discover the extraordinary lengths to which North has gone to indulge a powerful desire for self-destruction. Shipwreck is a daring parable of the contradictory impulses that can rend a single soul–narcissism and self-loathing, refinement and lust.

by Pete Hamill
This widely acclaimed bestseller is the magical, epic tale of an extraordinary man who arrives in New York in 1740 and remains... forever. Through the eyes of Cormac O'Connor--granted immortality as long as he never leaves the island of Manhattan--we watch New York grow from a tiny settlement on the tip of an untamed wilderness to the thriving metropolis of today. And through Cormac's remarkable adventures in both love and war, we come to know the city's buried secrets--the way it has been shaped by greed, race, and waves of immigration, by the unleashing of enormous human energies, and, above all, by hope.

The Racketeer
by John Grisham

Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland.

On paper, Malcolm’s situation isn’t looking too good these days, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve. He knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and he knows why. The judge’s body was found in his remote lakeside cabin. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.

What was in the safe? The FBI would love to know. And Malcolm Bannister would love to tell them. But everything has a price—especially information as explosive as the sequence of events that led to Judge Fawcett’s death. And the Racketeer wasn’t born yesterday. Nothing is as it seems and everything’s fair game in this wickedly clever new novel from John Grisham, the undisputed master of the legal thriller.

A Painted House
by John Grisham

The hill people and the Mexicans arrived on the same day. It was a Wednesday, early in September 1952. The Cardinals were five games behind the Dodgers with three weeks to go, and the season looked hopeless. The cotton, however, was waist-high to my father, over my head, and he and my grandfather could be heard before supper whispering words that were seldom heard. It could be a "good crop."

Thus begins the new novel from John Grisham, a story inspired by his own childhood in rural Arkansas. The narrator is a farm boy named Luke Chandler, age seven, who lives in the cotton fields with his parents and grandparents in a little house that's never been painted. The Chandlers farm eighty acres that they rent, not own, and when the cotton is ready they hire a truckload of Mexicans and a family from the Ozarks to help harvest it.

For six weeks they pick cotton, battling the heat, the rain, the fatigue, and, sometimes, each other. As the weeks pass Luke sees and hears things no seven-year-old could possibly be prepared for, and finds himself keeping secrets that not only threaten the crop but will change the lives of the Chandlers forever.

A Painted House is a moving story of one boy's journey from innocence to experience.

by J. Courtney Sullivan

For the Kellehers, Maine is a place where children run in packs, showers are taken outdoors, and old Irish songs are sung around a piano at night. Their beachfront property, won on a barroom bet after the war, sits on three acres of sand and pine nestled between stretches of rocky coast, with one tree bearing the initials “A.H.” At the cottage, built by Kelleher hands, cocktail hour follows morning mass, nosy grandchildren snoop in drawers, and decades-old grudges simmer beneath the surface.

As three generations of Kelleher women descend on the property one summer, each brings her own hopes and fears. Maggie is thirty-two and pregnant, waiting for the perfect moment to tell her imperfect boyfriend the news; Ann Marie, a Kelleher by marriage, is channeling her domestic frustration into a dollhouse obsession and an ill-advised crush; Kathleen, the black sheep, never wanted to set foot in the cottage again; and Alice, the matriarch at the center of it all, would trade every floorboard for a chance to undo the events of one night, long ago.

By turns wickedly funny and achingly sad, Maine unveils the sibling rivalry, alcoholism, social climbing, and Catholic guilt at the center of one family, along with the abiding, often irrational love that keeps them coming back, every summer, to Maine and to each other.

The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love--and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

Honestly, I picked the books first for the color of the dust jackets.  I needed two stacks of books to go with the color palette of the room.  But as I was looking, I cracked them open and read the synopsis.  They all sounded pretty decent so I figured when they weren't accessorizing a nightstand or reading nook end table, I might find myself with something to read over the summer.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2016: Cough Cocktail
2015: 7 Great Travel Related Magazines
2014: Frozen
2013: Working Man And Walking Man
2012: I’m Too Thrifty For My Shirt, Too Thrifty For My Shirt, So Thrifty It Hurts


Marlaina said...

I'll be reading Maine when I get there.

Mick and Ali said...

We both read The Goldfinch last year and it's amazing. Hope you enjoy it.