Brownrigg writes: “Among the many potent themes that weave in and out of the stories in “Sea Lovers” — the stark realities of the artist’s path; the proximity of death to life; the complexities of the relationship between humans and animals — are a number of seemingly ordinary yet revelatory images. For Valerie Martin’s characters, something as simple as drinking a glass of water can yield a moment of reflection and clarity. …
Just two weeks after Amanda Filipacchi placed The Blazing World atop her list, we are proud to welcome its author, Siri Hustvedt (hoost-ved) to Top Ten Land.
An internationally acclaimed novelist and essayist, her wide-ranging writings explore themes including the world of art, the intersection of the humanities and science, the nature of identity, selfhood and perception. Her work consistently receives the rarest and most coveted praise an author can earn, the head & heart salute: “intellectually and emotionally gripping,” “a glorious mashup of storytelling and scholarship,” “a rare gift for finding the human heart in what might be cerebral musings and rarefied settings.”
She debuted with a funny and altogether winning novel that includes an 11 year-old girl’s seduction of a 29 year-old man (Nude Men, 1993). She followed that with the darkly humorous, tale of a young woman who is transformed from drama school dropout to Oscar winner with a little help from a man who imprisons her in his cloud-filled home Vapor (1999). She next gave us another comically surreal work, Love Creeps (2005), about a female gallery owner who rediscovers her zest for life thanks to the man who is stalking her; a favor she returns by selecting another man, at random, that she stalks.
Sure, we could drop some giddy adjectival s-bombs and f-bombs (but never c-bombs) to express our delight. Instead we’ll just say aye, aye, min to our 166th member of Top Ten Land, Irvine Welsh.
Stephen King is in the news for at least two reasons this week. First, a prison break in upstate New York seems almost an homage to his terrific novel, The Shawshank Redemption, with a twist – in real life, the bad guys really are bad.
We are delighted to welcome the American writer Christopher Bollen as the 165th member of Top Ten land while he is basking in the glow of the warm reviews he is receiving for his second novel, Orient.
Praised by Ivy Pochoda in the Los Angeles Times as, perhaps, “this summer's most ambitious thriller or this summer's most thrilling work of literary fiction,” this smart, edge-of-your seat tale focuses on a small Long island town gripped by a series of mysterious deaths and one young man, a loner taken in by a local, tries to piece together the crimes before his own time runs out.
I was Lincoln’s Billy. Billy club when Lincoln refused to knock heads in Springfield. Billy goat when he needed a battering ram to reach Washington. Billy boy when he required a charming Billy to scare up money for his campaigns.
This week’s New York Times Book Review offers a Top Ten two-fer as Tom Perrotta reviews Kate Akinson’s new novel, A God in Ruins. (Although our contributors gather often for spirits at the Top Ten Country Club and share days at sea on the Top Ten Yacht (the S.S. Doorstopper), Kate and Tom have never done so together, so there is no conflict of interest.)
Heidi Julavits has received the first major review for her diary/essay collection and it’s a rave.
“The Folded Clock offers all the thrill of that trespass, in a work so artful that it appears to be without artifice,” Eula Bliss writes in the New York Times Book Review. “This diary is a record of the interior weather of an adept thinker. In it, the mundane is rendered extraordinary through the alchemy of effortless prose. It is a work in which a self is both lost and found, but above all made.”
To mark the publication of J. Peder Zane's new book, "Off the Books: On Literature and Culture," we'll be posting an essay from it each day.
Lack of curiosity is curious
Over dinner a few weeks ago, the novelist Lawrence Naumoff told a troubling story. He asked students in his introduction to creative writing course at UNC-Chapel Hill if they had read Jack Kerouac. Nobody raised their hand. Then he asked if anyone had ever heard of Jack Kerouac. More blank expressions.
Naumoff began describing the legend of the literary wild man. One student offered that he had a teacher who was just as crazy. Naumoff asked the professor's name. The student said he didn't know. Naumoff then asked this oblivious scholar, "Do you know my name?"