A Stay By The River short stories by Susan Engberg This gorgeous, quiet set of stories has brought me back many times over many years. It is my favorite book of short stories after those of Willa Cather. Engberg displays her profound sense of ease with sane characters whose struggles are more to understand than to suffer. I simply love this book. And on my wish list, Engberg’s new collection, Above the Houses.
A Stay By The River
Above the Houses
The First Coming non-fiction by Thomas Sheehan Once in a great while, a writer lays out a truth you’ve only intuited and it’s like having the text come from within you. Sheehan, a philosophy professor, treats the life and teachings of Jesus with such clarity and sense, laying to rest mountains of confusion. His subtitle: How the Kindgom of God Became Christianity. It is the first coming of Jesus that mattered.
The First Coming
84 Charing Cross Road non-fiction by Helene Hanff You may have seen the movie with Bancroff and Hopkins, and loved it, but reading these letters from crusty impoverished American writer Helene Hanff to button-down British antique bookseller Frank Doel are laugh-out-loud funny with a stunning power to move the heart. Doel’s reserve slowly melts, parcels are sent to ease the bookshop’s post-WWII food rationing woes, and friendships build before your reader eyes. The two follow up books are also a delight, but Charing Cross delivers big love.
84 Charing Cross Road
Sunset Song a novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon I will never forget reading this Scottish classic. The Brits do not have a corner on great novels about strong women who fight and win their identities amid rural poverty. The music of the inflected Northern Scotts language and the true daring of Gibbon to go epic in a tale of one young woman, Chris Guthrie, riding the turn of the century into the first World War… Give yourself many long weekends of reading pleasure. Get lost in Sunset Song.
Willa Cather & the Politics of Criticism non-fiction by Joan Acocella Acocella quite simply knocked me into happiness with her analysis of how Cather’s works have been received by critics through time. Clearly an adept Cather fan, and a brilliant thinker, Acocella skewers the reviewers. I was not at all surprised to learn, years after reading this book, that she is an esteemed dance critic for The New Yorker. No wonder she’s adept critiquing critics. I love her love of Willa who “wasted no energy protesting against the forces that might have stood in her way. She just opened the door and walked through it. For this lordly action, she has been made to pay, mostly by women.” Strange to say, but this book of criticism is a reading romp.
Willa Cather & the Politics of Criticism