Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum. Oskar refuses to grow after age three, when he begins to play his toy tin drum. It speaks for him during the rise of Nazism, the war years, and the postwar turmoil of a divided Germany.
Scott Turow, Innocent. I enjoy Turow’s legal thrillers because they hold you with puzzles, not violence. Innocent is one of the thrillers in the series devoted to Rusty Sabich and Sandy Stern, lawyers in Kindle County aka Chicago. It has more plot twists than a pretzel and I could not put it down.
Jaroslav Hasek, The Good Soldier Svejk. I am posting on each part of this book as I complete it. Part I – Behind the Lines. Svejk is in the World War I Austro Hungarian army, but not yet in battle. His struggles are with the military itself. Part II – At the Front. Svejk is not actually at the front, just continuing his long bureaucratically-obstructed journey toward that destination.
Margaret Drabble, The Sea Lady. Two people, a man and a woman, journey back to a place of their childhood. They meet there a third person from that time. A bit heavy on reminiscence and coincidence, but a good read for those of us who are looking back at our own reflections.
Angela Thirkell, The Brandons. Lavinia Brandon is rich widow, fond of her children and a bit silly. Everyone around her finds her absolutely charming, as do I. Just the person to spend a giggly afternoon with in 1939 Bartsetshire.
Sandford Salyer, Marmee: The Mother of Little Women. This rather informally written biography of Louisa May Alcott’s mother tells the story of the Alcott family as Abigail May Alcott (Abba) experienced it.
Edmund White, Fanny: A Fiction. Yes, a fiction. Loosely based on Frances Trollope’s Domestic Manners of the Americans, this book is not quite a novel and not quite a biography either. Mostly true to the historical facts, it invents incidents in Frances Trollope’s life, to no particular point that I could see.
Flannery O’Connor, Everything That Rises Must Converge. This collection of nine short stories, published after O’Connor’s death is my first experience with her work. The stories are skillfully wrought and intentionally disturbing.
Angela Thirkell, Before Lunch. Another cheerful muddle in the Bartsetshire series. Breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner are all important. That’s where people meet, talk, misunderstand. Some lovers head down the wrong path, but most matters are resolved before lunch.
Katharine Weber, Objects in Mirror Are Closer than They Appear. Two American women, Harriet and Anne, share an apartment in Geneva. The arrangement is temporary. They were roommates before, but now things have changed. Some objects in the mirror are indeed closer, too close.