Saturday, January 12, 2008

Fiction finds and a flop

This week's books are all fiction. Two are novels, two short-story collections. The latter are great finds, say our reviewers: Like You'd Understand, Anyway and Cheating at Canasta are not to be missed. They exemplify all that's wonderful about their format.
One of the novels is a find, the other a flop. The former, Fields of Asphodel, is a fascinating, somewhat quirky look at a trip through purgatory. The next, The Senator's Wife, is the latest novel from popular book-club pick author Sue Miller. Miller tends to examine "real women's" lives but seems to use a somewhat different magnifying glass than some of us "real women." Missing this Miller read won't hurt anyone.
Stay tuned for some tales about my trip to California. The National Book Critics Circle, to which I belong, is announcing the nominees for their yearly book awards tonight. This year they are breaking with tradition and holding their announcement, as well as several interesting panel discussions, in San Francisco. It's a refreshing opportunity to hear about writing and reading in a setting outside of New York City. NYC is arguably the nation's book-publishing capital, but it bears very little resemblance to the rest of the country, where most readers live. Kudos to the NBCC for recognizing that fact.