Wednesday, July 14, 2010


  • Ape House by Sara Gruen
  • C by Tom McCarthy
  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  • One Day by David Nicholls
  • Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? by Raymond Carver
  • The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn
  • Soul of A Citizen by Paul Loeb
  • After You Believe by N.T. Wright
  • A Testament of Devotion by Thomas Kelly
  • Violence by Slavoj Zizek

Last night and today I finished A Most Wanted Man by Le Carre, The Past Is A Foreign Country by Carofiglio, and The Wake of Forgiveness by Machart. 

Machart first. I really wanted to love this book and I didn't even like it. Comparisons to Cormac McCarthy and glowing reviews by Tim O'Brien and I was sure this book was for me. The time is turn of the 20th century and the place is Texas. The relationships focus on a widowed father and his three sons. My kind of book. I hoped for stark and spare and sorrowful. All I got was bored.

I came late to the Le Carre party, as this is the first of his books that I've read. That said, it will not be the last. I hate to speak in terms of "elevating the genre" as if adventure fiction can't have merit, but Le Carre is certainly doing something that Tom Clancy and Dan Brown are not. This is a genre that, at its weakest, is driven solely by action and not by characters. Unfortunately, more "literary" works often feel that plot is somehow for those of us who like our fiction with a side of fries. Le Carre reminds us that the best fiction has both, someone we care about doing something we care about. I was caught up in it from beginning to end. So, Le Carre fans, what should I read next?

The Past Is A Foreign Country was my favorite of the three. Talk about a solid plot and fleshed out characters, Carofiglio (I hadn't heard of him either) does both brilliantly. Sort of a mystery, but more than a mystery, this story creates an ongoing yet inexplicable tension, you know something is wrong, but you can't point to what it is that's wrong. But strange things are afoot at the Circle K. Much of this is credited to Carofiglio's narrator, Giorgio, who may or may not be unreliable, which means that he sort of is, regardless. Greatness. I highly recommend this book.

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