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The Perfect Mother: A Novel

A fast-paced thriller with the kind of emotional impact that transcends a simple whodunit.


In the Heart of the Heart of the Country: And Other Stories

This collection was first published in 1968, but it’s timeless. It suggests the milieux of Edward Hopper paintings, ones in which the paint itself writhes under your gaze.


Home

While it is certainly a fine book, I consider this to be the least satisfactory of Robinson’s four novels but still very much worth reading.


Beautiful You: A Novel

Cloaked in the weird and the taboo, what could have been an interesting meditation on feminism, sexuality, and consumerism is just the author's masturbatory exercise in misogyny and shock tactics.


Gilead

Overall, this is a first-class book about faith, about the complexity of relationships and, above all, about what it means to be a good and decent man, struggling with life’s problems.


Hiding in Plain Sight: A Novel

Nearly all the characters have been forced to give up their homelands and live in countries that afford them physical safety and civil rights. What is hiding in plain sight, we come to learn, is their true selves.


All My Puny Sorrows

Its intelligence, its honesty and, above all, its compassion provide a kind of existential balm — a comfort not unlike the sort you might find by opening a bottle of wine and having a long conversation with (yes, really) a true friend.


In the Course of Human Events: A Novel

Like the book’s ending, which forces the reader to only imagine the horrifying events to follow, the real challenge is to empathize with someone like Clyde, even when he’s doing the unthinkable, and even when a brilliant author like Harvkey refuses to spell it out for you.


The Dog: A Novel

O’Neill keeps us anxious to the very last. In a story like this, “happy” is far too much to expect, but the fact that X finally makes one decision for himself is perhaps the closest we can hope to get.


2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas

Given how easy it might be to slip into melodrama in the telling of psychologically difficult stories such as these, charging the narrative with exploration that makes the writer into a role player is a smart and memorable choice.


Let Me Be Frank With You

Let Me Be Frank With You might not be the Great American Novel, but Richard Ford is most certainly a great American writer.


Just Call Me Superhero

This book cries sequel and with a title like Just Call me Superhero why the heck shouldn’t there be one.


Station Eleven: A novel

Mandel tells an excellent story but also raises issues such as memories, loss of memories and recovery of memories as well as the issue of how music, Shakespeare and the determination that survival is not enough can help put back together a broken world.


Let Me Be Frank With You

When all’s said and done, it’s still Frank. It’s still Richard Ford. And it’s always a pleasure.


Ugly Girls

This is not a heartwarming tale about the transcendent power of female friendship. It’s a lesson that sometimes the odds are stacked so high against women that their friendship doesn’t stand a chance.


In the Light of What We Know

Zafar’s journey is immense, his voice by turns philosophical, dry, dodgy.


Shark

Go read it now. You'll be simultaneously entertained, mesmerized, intellectually stimulated, baffled — and laugh your ass off.


Let Me Be Frank With You

The stories in Let Me Be Frank with You have led me back into rereading the earlier Bascombe books — an advantage of art over life.


On the Edge

This is a novel to go to when you only want to be amused and distracted by someone terrifically — say terrifyingly — smart.


Before, During, After

Bausch’s tangential approach to the tragic 9/11 attacks suits his story well in that reality and tale artfully complement the emotional impact of each other.