Today’s post features Kathy’s favorite books read in 2012.
Author: Kevin Wilson
Call #: WIL
Kevin Wilson has created a fabulously dysfunctional family in this novel from 2011. Parents Camille and Caleb Fang are artists whose art involves creating chaos in public spaces and then filming it. When their two children are born, they include them in their schemes and vie for the title of “Worst Parents”. The book opens in the present day; children Buster and Annie are grown and dealing with their unhappy, stagnant lives which forces them both to move back home. The book alternates chapters between the present and the past where one of the family’s art installations is detailed. I loved this coming-of-age tale full of dark humor. For months after I read it I continued to speak of the characters as if they were real.
Author: Dana Spiotta
Call #: SPI
This is my type of book but might not be everybody’s type of book. It does not have a straightforward plot – it jumps in time, place, and perspective – and there isn’t a lot of forward momentum. Simply put, it’s just a story but a story that is compellingly told. It is about a woman in the 1970s that as part of the anti-war movement, participated in a violent act forcing her to go underground. Both her past and present, where she has changed her identity, are detailed. A third storyline revolves around a man who may or may not have been the main character’s lover in the 70s and now owns a counter-culture book store. Questions of identity, how you can create a new one or unravel an existing one, and lives led on the outskirts of society lend the novel a philosophical tone. If you like Jennifer Egan, Dana Spiotta might be a good choice.
Author: Junot Diaz
Call #: DIAZ
Generally short stories are not my favorite but two things helped with this collection – the stories are interconnected and the writing is fantastic. They are connected by theme (love, lust, sex, cheating and more cheating) and by character. Most of the stories feature brothers Yunior and Rafa – from Diaz’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I really love Diaz’s writing style because it is unlike anything else I read. One reviewer summed it up perfectly – “GRE-prep words with literary allusions, pop-culture references, Dominican slang, and American profanity”.
Recommended by: Kathy