From the Briefly Noted section of The New Yorker of 27 May 2013 (Self doesn’t know why; this got pushed to the very top of her Pile of Stuff):
She skipped the featured book review because it was about Dan Brown’s latest. She heard some fiddle-daddle that Manila was in there somewhere as the Gate of Hell. Yawn. The real Manila, as anyone who’s lived there knows, is too surreal to exist in a Dan Brown novel. It’s waiting for the next Fellini.
Two of the books in the Briefly Noted section are from Viking. One is from Penguin. The fourth is from a press self is hearing about for the first time: Europa. Without further ado, here are the Hallowed Four:
Bunker Hill, by Nathaniel Philbrick
Nathaniel Philbrick is a fantastic history writer. She’s read two of his previous books, one about the Mayflower and another called Sea of Glory, about a 19th century U.S. Exploring Expedition. Bunker Hill the battle was a bloody, bloody battle. Philbrick’s tale focuses on an American doctor who was a major general in the revolutionary army.
She Left Me the Gun, by Emma Brockes
Self will read any book that’s titled “She left me the gun.” Dear blog readers should know that this is a whodunit/memoir (the ones after self’s very own heart), whose main events unfold in South Africa. Sold!
Last Friends, by Jane Gardam
Self will read any book that’s called “Last Friends.” Self, cut it out! Just cut it out! OK, this one is the “satisfying conclusion” to Gardam’s Old Filth trilogy. Self will read anything that’s part of a trilogy with the intriguing title of Old Filth. Something like Old Money, but more pointed. Not only that, the characters have great names like Sir Edward Feathers and Sir Terence Veneering. Sold!
The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, by Kristopher Jansma
Self will read anything called “The Unchangeable Spots” etc etc. It’s all about “a writer’s formative years, centering on his two closest relationships” : a best friend and “chief rival,” and a woman named Evelyn for whom the writers harbors “an unrequited passion.” That’s the best kind! Unrequited passion, self means. In the book self just returned to the Redwood City Library, Love and Summer, by the Irish writer William Trevor, the tale of a nun who abandoned all for the sake of passion becomes a central motif. It’s very sad. The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards is described by the reviewer as “mercurial.” Which is ironic since the title leads one to think it is about “unchangeable spots.” OMG! It’s just too hot to focus. Anyhoo, kudos to first-time published author Jansma, whose narrative games “never fail to entertain.” What. A. Lucky. Guy.
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.