A genius baby is born to a Maine family with an alcoholic mother and a cocaine-addict older son, but the kicker is that the baby knows that a stray comet’s going to destroy the world in 2010. The novel goes in wildly varied directions from here using different narrators and styles, with no two sections alike and plenty of black humor. The second-person sections take some getting used to but add an otherworldly flair that becomes essential plot-wise, resulting in a thoughtful meditation on what it means to enjoy life and find meaning in the face of tragedy.
D’Onofrio’s novels take place in fictitious Aviario, Connecticut, a town where the underground lines of magic intersect and supernatural happenings abound. This second book in the series revolves around a string of murders, a demon that haunts one of the town’s oldest families, and a romance that everyone except the main character thinks is a bad idea. The story’s real energy, however, comes from its twentysomething cast of characters who read tarot cards, run a magic shop, play table-top games, and never fail to talk like real people, making the whole novel feel decidedly current (spirit animals notwithstanding).
Angela D’Onofrio’s website
Begley’s biography of writer John Updike exhaustively covers its hero’s rural Pennsylvania childhood, his stint as a twentysomething New Yorker writer, his years in suburban Massachusetts, his elderly descent into isolation, and his many, many novels. Though Updike’s serial adultery plays a key role, Begley keeps the details vague for privacy reasons—unfortunate, since it often feels like there’s more we’re not getting as Begley instead summarizes the autobiographical facets of Updike’s vast oeuvre. The result reads more like literary criticism than biography, but still decently flushes out one of America’s most prolific 20th century writers.
Where I Got It
Ordered online in Fall 2016.
If you haven’t already, you should probably read Rabbit, Run instead, because it’s excellent.
Fourteen-year-old Trisha has a hypochondriac mother, a sister who wants to be on The Real World, and not much else. Her new job at a teenybopper mall store leads her to Rose, a rebel who smokes and otherwise does what she wants, and together they set out on a late-night adventure through the sprawl of northeastern Massachusetts. Tea’s writing hums with crazy energy, sharp observations, and madcap scenes that leave you racing. This is a book about when everything was exciting and meant something, a book for those of us who play by our own rules. Read it.
Where I Got It:
Christmas gift from a friend who was like, “I’ve got a book for you.”
Michelle Tea’s website