Saturday, April 23, 2011

Table of Contents: Model House

Model Home: A Novel
Author: Eric Puchner
Publisher/Year: Scribner, 2010
Synopsis: Warren Ziller moved his family to California in search of a charmed life and to all appearances, he found it: a gated community not far from the beach, amid the affluent splendor of Southern California in the 80s.But his American dream has been rudely interrupted.  Despite their affection for each other—the “slow, jokey, unrehearsed vaudeville” they share at home—Warren, his wife Camille, and their three children have veered into separate lives, as distant as satellites.  Worst of all, Warren has squandered the family’s money on a failing real estate venture.

When tragedy strikes, the Zillers are forced to move to one of the houses in Warren’s abandoned development in the middle of the desert. Marooned in a less-than-model home, each must reckon with what’s led them there and who’s to blame—and whether they can summon the forgiveness needed to hold them together.

What Others Have To Say
The New York Times
"Puchner is a tender, humane observer of family life, and his lithe prose deepens our understanding of his characters."

The Washington Post
"There's a terrible shame involved if you fail in America. But that shame is universal. It clings to us like an invisible, sticky veil. That's what this estimable book is about."

San Francisco Chronicle
"As a novelist, Puchner is not yet fully at ease with this challenge, choosing at times to narrate emotion instead of trusting his skill at dramatizing the complicated relationships he has created."

Chicago Tribune
"... as devastating as the portraits of the parents are, the depiction of the kids is close to heart-breaking..."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Book Mark: Canada Reads Poetry

For anyone who follows the annual 'Canada Reads' competition, the CBC has been running a supplementary contest called 'Canada Reads Poetry' to celebrate National Poetry Month.

The books and panelists are:
The online debate is occurring right now over on CBC Books. This is a great idea to extend the 'Canada Reads' brand and promote poetry but not sure about the online format. Have yet to be convinced to read any of the books being discussed by just reading the comments about them. Will be interesting to see who is judged as the winner through this forum, and if this exercise overall will be considered successful.

Book Mark: 2011 Pulitzer Prize Winners Announced

The winners of 2011 Pulitzer Prizes were announced this week in the "Letters, Drama and Music" category:

A Visit from the Goon Squad
Jennifer Egan - A Visit from the Good Squad

Clybourne Park
Bruce Norris - Clybourne Park

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery
Eric Foner - The Fiery Trial" Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery

Washington: A Life
Ron Chernow - Washington: A Life

The Best of It: New and Selected Poems 
Kay Ryan - The Best of It: New and Selected Poems

General NonFiction
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer 
Siddhartha Mukherjee - The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Table of Contents: The Swimming Pool

The Swimming Pool
Author: Holly LeCraw 
Publisher/Year: Random House, 2010
Synopsis: Marcella di Pavarese Atkinson has always longed for love, warmth, understanding.  Seven years ago, she believed she had found it, although illicitly, with Cecil McClatchey–a married father of two, and a longtime summer acquaintance from Cape Cod.  But on the night their romance abruptly ended, Cecil’s wife was found dead, and Cecil died soon after, an uncharged suspect.  Now Marcella lives alone, divorced, estranged from her teenaged daughter, and hobbled by her grief and guilt.

Meanwhile, Cecil’s grown son, Jed, returns to the Cape for the summer for the first time in years, with his sister and her young children.  One morning, in an upstairs closet, he finds a bathing suit he recognizes as Marcella’s–a relic, unbeknownst to him, of his father’s affair.  A hunch, his years-long hunger for answers, and the memory of a teenaged crush send Jed looking for her.  But when Marcella and Jed, to their deep surprise, fall into a passionate affair of their own, they must hide it from their families and also begin, reluctantly, to look more closely at the past. What they find is shocking, heartbreaking, and, perhaps, the beginning of healing; but as they confront their shared pain, a crisis is brewing in the present that will force them, and us, to think about the very nature of love.

What Others Have To Say
The New York Times
"I understand that this is a bodice-ripper couched as a literary novel, something you can, without blushing, leave on the white rattan coffee table at your vacation rental. But does it have to take itself so seriously?"

Kirkus Reviews
"Whether open or suppressed, passion rules events, but this is not a murder mystery; instead LeCraw reveals the complex moral and psychological mystery within all relationships."

Entertainment Weekly
"...Holly LeCraw wades slowly into her narrative instead of diving straight in, so the story takes a while to pick up. But once it does, the suburban afflictions that are drowning these characters make it difficult to put down"