Monday, March 29, 2010

Fiction Corner

It's been a busy week. I had a bad head cold (almost gone, but not quite), a tight copyediting deadline (over, thank goodness), and an exciting bead show on Friday (article on Spark coming next week or so), and ... I turn 65 years old tomorrow!

I did manage to squeeze in some reading lately, however, as always, so here are a few recommendations. (No cover pics today; sorry, upload doesn't seem to be working.)

Small Wars by Sadie Jones is the second novel (debut, The Outcast) by this young British novelist. I was so impressed with her first that I was eager to read this second one, and it didn't disappoint. The book is set in Cyprus in the middle 1950s and focuses on a young British couple with two children. The kinds of traumatic effects of war on the British officer's mental state, his ideas of honesty and honor, his ideals of military and patriotic duty, and on his marriage are explored vividly and insightfully. Despite the distance in time and location of the setting, many of the issues raised --  in terms of interrogation methods, dealing with terrorists among civilian populations, and cultural misunderstandings with foreign armed forces -- are extremely contemporary and could only have been addressed the way they were by someone alive since 9/11.

William Boyd, author of many excellent award-winning novels, including Any Human Heart and, last year, Restless, has a new one, Ordinary Thunderstorms. It's a fascinating tale of identity, intrigue, and societal dysfunction in contemporary London. The protagonist is trapped by random circumstances into leaving behind his old life and living underground, on the lam as it were, and inventing a new life amid the tangles of a deadly pharmaceutical cover-up and murder case ... and he falls in love to boot. It's an interesting mix of genres -- thriller, crime tale, social criticism, love story, psychological study, and adventure story -- that is coherent and well written.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back to the land of the living Susan! I can't wait to read your Blog post on the bead show. And....HAPPY BIRTHDAY to You!