Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Kay’s Favorite Recently Published Books

Boswellian Kay Wosewick reads a lot. Like, a lot a lot. So how about a roundup of her favorite recently and semi-recently published books - check them out!

Highfire is unlike any other book I’ve read. Author Eoin Colfer brings to life a character straight out of fantasy and flawlessly mixes him with good-hearted, hard-scrabble bayou folks and black-hearted, bad-ass government and criminal types. The result is a hilarious, hair-raising, maddening but ultimately joyful tale. This book will lift your spirits and revive any lost belief in the power of karma. And I promise you’ll be totally won over by Vern, the last vodka-loving, Netflix-addicted dragon alive, living a pretty comfy life on the Louisiana coast.

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore is more of an emotional roller-coaster ride than Highfire, though it, too, is ultimately upbeat. Oona lives her adult life never knowing how old she’ll be when she wakes up on her next birthday. Starting with what should be her 19th birthday, Oona wakes up 51 years old. Before the book ends, she flips through seven more birthdays, ranging from 19 to 53. Oona’s reactions to this craziness include attempts to adjust her fate and to right past wrongs. Oona is a delightful and thought-provoking adventure.

If you are searching for a saga-sized escape, Greenwood by Michael Christie fits the bill. A first generation lumber baron in the early 1900s eventually gives rise to a fourth generation forest guide in one of the planet’s last standing old-growth forests in 2034. Most members of this family lead edgy lives in varying degrees of pain - yet these characters dig hooks in you and press you to read onward. Unresolved relationships and personal journeys, within and across the generations, slowly achieve closure as the chapters shift almost seamlessly from 2034 to 1908 and back to 2034. The characters will stay with you long after you close the book.

Heading in a somewhat darker direction, just out in paperback is Dave Eggers’s The Parade, a strange story (maybe a little Kafkaesque?) of two markedly different men assigned to quickly build a road in a recently war-torn country. Eggers’s spare prose is so sharp, taut, and vivid that I’m nearly certain it burned a long series of permanent afterimages in me. Check back in 10 years for proof. While I don’t have a formal literary education to back up this pronouncement, I think this book is a masterpiece.

I also recommend Dave Eggers’ recent hardcover release, The Captain and the Glory, which smartly satirizes Trump's presidency. There are plenty of giggles and groans. And I love that Eggers lets NO ONE, including Trump foes, off the hook.

If you aren’t getting your fill of bio-hazard stories on the internet or TV, Cold Storage by David Koepp is the most recent book in this genre. This page-turner reminds me of The Andromeda Strain (OK, please keep in mind I read that book almost 50 years ago). The bio-hazardous remains of an old government cover-up (creepily and vividly described at the start of the book) have escaped what was designed to be permanent containment, and are on the verge of escaping secondary containment. The only two operatives with intimate knowledge of the bio-hazard are quickly pulled out of retirement to stop the escape. While story feels almost as believable as Covid, I can’t possibly imagine a foe as adaptable, freakish, and repulsive as the one in Cold Storage. Thank goodness this is just a novel.

I’ll close with a smart little book you can easily dip in and out of at your leisure. Awkword Moments, by Ross and Kathryn Petras, is subtitled "A Lively Guide to the 100 Terms Smart People Should Know.” It just may shift you from using ubiquitous and quotidian words to using the mot juste J.

Have fun and stay healthy. - Kay Wosewick

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