10 Best Books: Eileen Murphy
Place Last Seen, by Charlotte McGuinn Freeman (Picador) A first-time novelist blends the sustained suspense of a pop thriller with the elegance and vision of fine literature in this nuanced story of a family both grieved and relieved by the absence of a Down syndrome-afflicted daughter.
Eating Naked, by Stephen Dobyns (Henry Holt & Co.) Novelist/poet/essayist Dobyns tries his hand at the short-story form in this collection about small-town life. The plots are driven by the characters' lack of action, and Dobyns' success at this strange effort--which breaks a basic tenet of fiction writing--once again proves his talent.
In America, by Susan Sontag (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) Sontag seduces her readers through the story of a Polish actress who immigrates to America, entourage in tow, to create a Utopian community in 1870s California. Readers intimidated by Sontag's reputation as an intellectual will find her a surprisingly gracious and accessible storyteller.
Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday, Café Society, and an Early Cry for Civil Rights, by David Margolick (Running Press) This slender volume explores the history of the anti-lynching song made famous by Billie Holiday and named "Best Song of the Century" by Time magazine. The complicated history of the song affords Margolick a new way to chronicle the thorny path of race relations in America.
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown & Co.) This compulsively readable book was born as a brilliant New Yorker article, and against all odds, Gladwell maintains the same casual, conversational tone for nearly 300 pages. By examining phenomena as diverse as the renewed popularity of Hush Puppies and Baltimore's syphilis epidemic, Gladwell reduces trends to their most basic elements and demystifies seemingly inexplicable events.
Cherry, by Mary Karr (Viking Press) This memoir, a follow-up to the best-selling Liar's Club, has the power of a well-crafted novel. Karr recollects her wild teenage years with the wisdom of age, but without losing the confused immediacy of the moment.
The Last Lovely City, by Alice Adams (Washington Square Press) and After the War, by Alice Adams (Knopf) Adams died in 1999, but her last two books were published in 2000. The quality of the work--a collection of short stories and a novel--deliver Adams at her best, full of gentle humor. Her fiction is at once artful and wonderfully down-to-earth.
The Bridegroom: Stories, by Ha Jin (Pantheon Books) The author of last year's Waiting--winner of the National Book Award--Ha Jin returns with a collection of short stories exploring the range of reactions to an oppressive culture. The writing is exquisite, and each story is a carefully considered look at the long-term effects of being silenced.
The Year In Tracks (12/15/2009)
. . . just in the case the album really is dead.
The Year in News (12/9/2009)
The Year in Movies (12/9/2009)
The View From the Hill (12/26/2001)
Resevoir Hill Residents in Their Own Write
Home Front (11/7/2001)
In The Struggle To Renew Reservoir Hill, Housing Is The Biggest Battleground
Growing Pains (10/10/2001)
A Reservoir Hill Childhood, Yesterday and Today
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