Here's my favorites from the last couple months of reading:
1. Birds of America (Lorrie Moore) – ""The house is amazing to look at," I say. "It's beat-up in such an intricate way. Like a Rauschenberg. Like one of those beautiful wind-tattered billboards one sees in the California desert." I'm determined to be agreeable; the house, truth be told, is a shock. Maple seedlings have sprouted up through the dining room floorboards, from where a tree outside has pushed into the foundation. Squirrels the size of collies scrabble in the walls."
2. Who Will Run The Frog Hospital? (Lorrie Moore) – "When I was a child, I tried hard for a time to split my voice. I wanted to make chords, to splinter my throat into harmonies – floreted as a field, which is how I saw it. It seemed like something one should be able to do. With concentration and a muscular push of air, I felt, I might be able to people myself, unleash the crowd in my voice box, give birth, set free all the moods and nuances, all the lovely and mystical inhabitants of my mind’s speech."
3. Empire Falls (Richard Russo) – "The first assignment is to paint your most vivid dream, and Tick's is the one where she's clutching a snake in her fist. The painting is going pretty well. The snake started out looking like an eel, but now it's less flat, more serpentine, except it's not as scary as the snake in her dream, which, no matter how tight her grip, manages to squirm up to where it can turn and look at her."
4. Sweet Talk (Stephanie Vaughn) – "We went next to Goat Island and stood on the open bank to watch the leap and dive of the white water. My mother held her handbag close to her breasts. She had a habit of always holding things this way – a stack of dinner plates, the dish towel, some mail she had brought in from the porch; she hunched over slightly, so that her body seemed at once to be protective and protected. "I don't like the river," she said. "I think it wants to hypnotize you.""
5. Light Years (James Salter) – "Their life is mysterious, it is like a forest; from far off it seems a unity, it can be comprehended, described, but closer it begins to separate, to break into light and shadow, the density blinds one. Within there is no form, only prodigious detail that reaches everywhere: exotic sounds, spills of sunlight, foliage, fallen trees, small beasts that flee at the sound of a twig-snap, insects, silence, flowers."
How about you – read anything great lately?