I just finished Kyle Minor’s first collection, In the Devil’s Territory, which I liked very much, and which, as of this writing, is still just $1.99 for Kindle (go get it). And I read a Middle Grade book called Lone Wolf, which Una really wanted me to read. At AWP in Seattle, I bought Kyle’s second book, Praying Drunk, which is out from Sarabande and getting all kinds of notice. It looks fantastic. I also got Ryan Blacketter’s Down in the River, new from Greg Wolfe’s very cool Wipf & Stock imprint, Slant Books.
Last night before bed, I went upstairs to the study to look for my next fiction read. What have we grabbed lately that I could start? Or what’s been on the shelf for a long time that I haven’t yet read? I was looking specifically for a woman author, as I tend to switch between men and women pretty evenly.
I was surprised to see that most of the contemporary novels I hadn’t yet read were by men. Part of it is that I’d already read the books we own by Barbara Kingsolver, Anne Tyler, Alice McDermott, and a few others who are all-time favorites. And for some reason, we just hadn’t bought much more. (Perhaps more novels by men are out there in bulk so I’ve picked them up. I don’t really know. And Beth reads an absolute ton of nonfiction, and not as many contemporary novels in recent years, so she hasn’t bought very much fiction.) I settled on an author I like a lot: Jane Hamilton. I realized I had never read her first book, The Book of Ruth, which has been on our shelf forever. It’s wonderful so far.
So when we drove down to Muncie today, I was specifically in search of novels by women. And, wow, I was not disappointed in today’s haul from the Goodwill. Thrift store novels will usually be a few years older, but I don’t mind that at all, as I tend not to keep up with fiction when it’s brand new anyway. Here’s what we got, in all it’s glory:
1) Blue Angel by Francine Prose
2) Monkey Bridge by Lan Cao
3) Salt Dancers by Ursula Hegi
4) Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
And a few nonfiction titles that look equally amazing:
5) Bloodlines: Odyssey of a Native Daughter by Janet Campbell Hale
6) Pink Houses and Family Taverns by Becky Bradway
This stack of books just thrills me. I won’t get to the bottom of it for many months.
Which novels have you read recently? Have you found anything great, new or old? I’d love to hear your stories as I keep a running list of recommendations. Leave me a comment here, or on Facebook or Twitter.