The Recent Reading List

Friday, I finished The Well and the Mine, by Gin Phillips. It was a beautiful bit of Southern fiction, the kind I used to aspire to write, but gave up for comedy and angry satire — because, as much as I love her voice, I know it’s not my voice. The characters in it — the Moore family — were, as they say, something else, and I really didn’t want the book to end. Extra bonus is that my copy is signed. I met Gin at SIBA a few weeks back and she had one of those great stories: Her book was published by a small house and then picked up by Penguin/Riverhead.

The week before I finished Martin Clark’s The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living. What a weird damn book. Seriously. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I think it’s classified as a legal thriller, but that’s as ridiculous a classification as I can think of. Let’s just say it involves a dope-smoking, alcoholic judge who ends up chasing about the country on behalf of an albino-teared woman who may or may not be a saint. And, yes, that’s a recommendation.

I knocked down a James Lee Burke book as well, The Tin Roof Blowdown. It had been a long while since I curled up with Burke and Dave Robicheaux. As always, it was a hell of a ride. To be honest, I picked it up hoping to learn (or steal) a thing or two for the book I’m working on now. And I think I learned quite a bit.

Before that was Morte D’Urban, by J.F. Powers. I’d never heard of the book. Never heard of the author. It just happens to be a comedy about a Catholic priest. Which, you know, weird. I’m still working out my feelings about the book. What started out as a comedy turned rather damn bleak toward the end.

And before THAT was Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety. Now, if there’s one thing I hate to read about is novels about college professors. But I’d liked Angle of Repose years ago, so I figured I’d give this a shot. Holy shit, am I glad I did. What a quietly beautiful and powerful work. I’m still thinking about it weeks later. It not only stays with me, it makes me sick with jealousy because of Stegner’s writing style. There’s nothing about it that screams “THIS IS ART!” But it’s all there. There’s no escaping it. At all. Read it. READ IT.

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