And the first author brought to you by Jocelyn:
If you missed Await Your Reply in hardcover, now is your chance to get it in paperback. And missing it would be a crime, because this novel is one of the best pieces of writing to come out in the previous year. Chaon first showed his craft as a short story writer, in the riveting collection Among the Missing. Even in the novel format, Chaon keeps that crucial attention to detail, giving us stories within stories.
Await Your Reply is rhythmic in its pacing, interweaving the strands of three main characters whose lives intersect and ricochet off the others. Even within each chapter, the story is cut down into brief passages, each one faceted and honed to its own small resolution, like little gems that make up a necklace. The result is like the cycle of breathing; every inhalation demands an exhalation. And like breathing, you absolutely can't stop, because Chaon propels the story forward relentlessly, revealing details with a maddening deliberation. The story itself is an exploration of identity, and of the importance we attach to it. What makes us who we are? Can we change? Can we become someone else? Can someone else become us? Those are the questions the characters pursue. Miles ponders them as he follows the shifting trail of his schizophrenic brother. Ryan clings to those questions as he chases down the truth of his parentage. Lucy wonders about them even as she runs away with her older lover.
As each character pursues the answers to those questions, they draw closer to each other, and to the realization of just how easily identity can be tossed off, shifted, and created…and that within that truth lays a great danger.It's tempting to call Dan Chaon a "writer's writer." After all, the attention to the craft of writing is evident throughout the novel. But that description is misleading. Chaon is a reader's writer. This is a breathtaking story that is pure enjoyment, even while it's breaking your heart. Do not miss it.
And the second author brought to you by Jason:
Coming out tomorrow is easily the most hyped about book of the year so far, The Passage by Justin Cronin. You may remember him from either Mary & O'Neil or the Pen/Hemingway award winning novel The Summer Guest. If so, then you are still not prepared for this gem of speculative fiction, as this is all new ground that Cronin is putting down for himself. I am not going to tell you too much about the book, it is mammoth at over 600 pages. Cronin outdoes himself, he keeps to his storytelling, literary roots from his earlier works and melds it together with page-turning compulsiveness of an epic story a la old-school Stephen King.