Have you read anything great lately? These are my favorites from the last few months, all very different from one another. I loved On Beauty because the prose sparkled, The Book Thief because it was dark, poetic, tragic, and beautiful, 10:04 because it was hypnotic and daringly self-referential, and The Martian Chronicles because Bradbury is a master at making you feel like you're really there. A taste of each:
1. On Beauty (Zadie Smith) – "'Very enterprising,' said Howard. Then he laughed and looked at his son with fond wonder. What a period this was to live through! His children were old enough to make him laugh. They were real people who entertained and argued and existed entirely independently from him, although he had set the thing in motion. They had different thoughts and beliefs. They weren't even the same colour as him. They were a kind of miracle."
2. The Book Thief (Markus Zusak) – "I could introduce myself properly, but it's not really necessary. You will know me well enough and soon enough, depending on a diverse range of variables. It suffices to say that at some point in time, I will be standing over you, as genially as possible. Your soul will be in my arms. A color will be perched on my shoulder. I will carry you gently away."
3. 10:04 (Ben Lerner) – "I thought I could smell the light, syrupy scent of cottonwoods blooming prematurely, confused by a warmth too early in the year even to be described as a false spring, but that might have been a mild olfactory hallucination triggered by memory—or, I found myself thinking, a brain tumor. Across the water, a helicopter was lowering itself carefully onto the downtown heliport by South Street, a slow strobe on its tail."
4. The Martian Chronicles (Ray Bradbury) – "They had a house of crystal pillars on the planet Mars by the edge of an empty sea, and every morning you could see Mrs. K eating the golden fruits that grew from the crystal walls, or cleaning the house with handfuls of magnetic dust which, taking all dirt with it, blew away on the hot wind. Afternoons, when the fossil sea was warm and motionless, and the wine trees stood stiff in the yard, and the little distant Martian bone town was all enclosed, and no one drifted out their doors, you could see Mr. K himself in his room, reading from a metal book with raised hieroglyphs over which he brushed his hand, as one might play a harp."