Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Three Good Books

It's not real often I can recommend three excellent books at the same time, so such an opportunity can't be ignored. It's entirely a coincidence that two of these books have strangely similar names.

1. The Year of Magical Thinking. It's always a treat when a world-class novelist turns to memoir, and this is no exception. This is Joan Didion's memoir of her year of adjustment after the sudden, unexpected death of her husband. Any effort to describe why this book is great would be woefully inadequate, so I'll simply say it should be must reading.

2. Magical Thinking. This collection of autobiographical essays by Augusten Burroughs, the author of Running with Scissors, is painstakingly crafted, and is by turns hysterically funny and shockingly honest. A great, great read.

3. Rain Gods. James Lee Burke's books could be relegated to the category of pulp fiction, given the subject matters. These are all crime mystery/thrillers. But he is one of the few such authors producing books that I reread periodically, because they cross over from popular fiction to true literature. With heroes and villains who are fascinatingly complex, there are Burke novels that I've read as many as four times——that's how interesting they are. The plots are unmistakably masculine and sometimes a bit raw, but this last novel is good enough to remind you of No Country for Old Men.

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