Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday is the day of book reviews

On Sundays I like to take a look at what is new in books or what the book critics are saying out there.

There is of course The New York Times Sunday Book Review. This can get a little academic for me, and the criticism is pretty pointed and sharp, but it's also a good indicator of what the literary world is taking notice of. I was curious about the review they did of Carolyn Chute's new novel, "The School on Heart's Content Road". The novel is what they call "a depiction of contemporary American poverty"....

“The School on Heart’s Content Road” is as idiosyncratic as it is engaging. A mytho­poetics of the Second Amendment isn’t exactly common in modern American literary fiction. But neither is the depiction of contemporary American poverty: of the slow, relentless grind of never quite having enough, of the leaching of hope and ambition from those for whom a job at Wal-Mart is a rare opportunity, of the impossible double-bind choices made by the poor every day. This is a beautiful novel, a polemical novel, a messy novel. It’s a love song to a part of America that doesn’t have much of a voice, and is armed.

It wasn't completely glowing praise... the reviewer also wrote...

Form doesn’t just follow feeling in these pages, it chases it helplessly with a butterfly net, casting about in multiple directions, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing. But watching Chute miss what she’s after is more interesting than watching a lesser, better behaved writer catch tidier prey.

The StarTribune also has a good book section that I look at regularly. Today they wrote about young adult authors in Minnesota, which I am interested in too. Louise Erdrich has a new book for young adults that sounds good, "The Porcupine Year" - it's the third in a trilogy. This one is about 12 year old Ojibwe girl Oakayas having to leave her homeland. I'd also like to check out the young adult book published by Milkweed Press, "Discovering Pig Magic" by Julie Crabtree.

Business North writer Beth Bily reviewed Aaron Brown's "Overburden: Modern Life on the Iron Range" here.

The Pioneer Press in St. Paul has a list of new Minnesota authors publishing books this holiday season.... check it out. I'm curious about all of them, but especially Lorna Landvik's and Mary Logue's new books.

has an interesting article on MN poet Larry Shug.

Where do you find out about books? Let me know if you have a book you'd think I'd like or would be good for Realgoodwords on KAXE.

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