Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Summer of Chris

I declare this the summer of Chris! No, I'm not just sitting at home in my velvet pajamas all day, calling the store to ask Daniel what's happening. Not yet, anyway. Rather, I've been at home reading through a stack of this summer's new releases. This summer, this is me:
Now Boswell's New and Noteworthy shelves are loaded with my summer recommendations. So here's a guide to the Summer of Chris reading list:
City of Secrets by Stewart O'Nan
Just after World War II, holocaust survivor Brand lives in hiding in Jerusalem's walled Old City and becomes reluctantly involved in the violent resistance to British colonial rule. The novel is disguised as a historic thriller, and it exposed me to a troubling chapter in Great Britain's history, but the real story is that of a man's conflicted heart. O'Nan is particularly adept at delving deep into his characters' internal conflicts, and explores how much a man can lose and still fight for life, and how much of his own moral code a man is willing to break for a larger cause.
Nitro Mountain by Lee Clay Johnson
Welcome to "the lost dog capital of the world." This novel, which reads like a hard, classic country song come to life, follows the doomed-just-for-living lives of two broke country musicians, one moonshiner full of rage and white lightning, and the mountain woman who loves them all. The novel is set in the foothills of Appalachia, the region where I grew up, and comes as close as any book I've ever read to capturing what we call "Appalachian fatalism" - the bone deep, born knowledge that if something bad can happen to you, sooner or later it probably will.
Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend
Based on the real life of Frances Conway, a quiet woman turned international spy in the Galapagos Island during World War II. A beguiling novel of island life and espionage, friendship, love, and betrayal, Amend's third novel is a exciting step forward for her career, all of her talents coalescing into a book that shows a writer coming into her full storytelling powers.
The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson
A man with a life that's average at best is surprised to discover he's officially the happiest man in the world. He's even more surprised when he's told that happiness isn't free. Riffing on Kafka but taking things in a new direction, Sweden's most popular TV-star-turned-bestselling-author has written a quirky book that's at turns dark and hilarious, anxious and rambunctious, an oddball affirmation of being alive.
Seinfeldia by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
The stories behind the stories of one very, very bad man, a terrible dancer, a pathetic loser, and a hipster doofus. A fascinating history of America's most famous sitcom, from its seat-of-the-pants inception to its culture-shifting influence, this book is so well written that it will give even the most hopeless George at least one conceivable reason to get up in the morning. This book glitters!
The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese
A disturbing and controversial book by one of America's preeminent journalists, Talese reconstructs the story of a Colorado motel owner who spent decades spying on his guests through secret vents in his motel rooms' ceilings. Along with the obvious, disturbing implications for the motel industry and its customers, the book raises uncomfortable questions about the writer's ethical, not to mention legal, obligations to the voyeur's victims. Yet even as these questions remain unanswered, the book persists in being compelling, a glimpse into the mind of a man driven by obsession that is at once repulsive and riveting.
After all that reading, this is pretty much me for the rest of this summer:

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