Summer Reading List

I have an embarrassing number of friends who are also talented authors. No fewer than four of them have books out right now. You should, of course, spend all your free time doing nothing but reading them. I would prefer that you did this blindly on my say-so, but in case you want to know a little more about the books in question:

godsaysno.jpgI’ve known James Hannaham for over half my life, starting around the time he gave me a discount on a Talking Heads record at Crazy Eddie’s; in all that time, he’s been one of the smartest, funniest people I’ve had the pleasure to meet. You might be familiar with his high-snark arts criticism for The Village Voice and other venues, but his debut novel, God Says No, is something very different: scenes from the life of Gary Gray, a (adjectives here in alphabetical order) black Christian homosexual married overweight man. James carves out scenes of Gary’s messy life with exquisite precision, whether the results are tragic or farcical (or often, both). “Confusion and fear came over me. Joe stared at me like a puzzle he didn’t feel like solving.” Go buy the book now. Here’s an Amazon link; or you can get it directly from the good people at McSweeney’s, who published it.

ilamiu.jpg“I thought he was handsome in his dark green uniform, certainly, with a stern Italianite visage reminiscent of a Sopranos thug crossed with Sam the Eagle from The Muppet Show.” That’s Lily Burana‘s description of her future husband, “Major Mike,” and having met him, I can say it’s spot-on. I Love a Man in Uniform tells the story of their unlikely marriage (former stripper/gifted author meets military man) and Lily’s entry into the world of military wives at West Point; it’s funny, moving, and revealing. Go buy it now.

gimme.jpgMary Elizabeth Williams, bon vivant and troublemaker, recently published Gimme Shelter, the hugely entertaining story of her epic quest to buy an apartment in New York City at the very top of the housing market. Spoiler alert: things don’t work out the way she planned. “The McLoft also has enormous windows and imposing silver columns. Henry James has collided with the Enterprise.” Go buy it now.

kissthesky.jpgI have to confess I haven’t yet read Farai Chideya‘s debut novel, Kiss the Sky, and yet I am excited about it. You may know Farai’s voice from various NPR programs; she says the book is “about the battle of a black rock star to overcome her demons.” I’m so there. Go buy it now.

posted 1 June 2009 in Links and tagged , , , , , . no comments yet

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