Get Thee to the Novel

I occasionally read nonfiction, but reading novels is my passion. I look forward to sharing my favorite books, and discovering new favorites from others.
The Fun Parts - Sam Lipsyte

These stories are twisted and hilarious, full of quotable lines. I had started Lipsyte's novel The Ask, but couldn't get into it. I'm thinking of revisiting that book after reading this one.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves - Karen Joy Fowler

Several months ago I watched the movie "Project Nim" about a chimpanzee that had been raised with a family as if he were human (for research purposes)--and the tragedy of where the chimp ended up after having to leave the family. This novel tells a similar story, but from the point of view of the human child who is left behind and considers the chimp to be her sister.


I really enjoyed this book at times - the narrator has an engaging voice and is wonderfully humorous while dealing with painful emotions.However, the ending should have broken my heart, and it really didn't do that. I didn't entirely believe in the characters and I believe that's where the flaw is.

Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth

Don't read any reviews of this book - they give away far too much. Just read it. Beautifully written and suspenseful. It's a big book so requires a time commitment, which is amply rewarded. Happy Reading!

The Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles

It's been several months since I've read this book, so my observations are not as accurate or fresh as I would like. But this book has truly stayed with me. That magical thing happened which is quite rare: after reading one paragraph I had no choice but to continue reading. I HAD to know what happened next.


First of all it is a first-rate suspense novel. It also takes a complex view of every character without shying away from the brutality and ignorance that ruled on all sides. It is set in the Texas frontier at the end of the Civil War when hostilities between Native Americans and white settlers were escalating. Two adult women and three children are kidnapped by a band of Comanche. The women are enslaved and the children are basically adopted and raised as Indians.


Much of the novel focuses on the efforts of the husband of one of the women, Britt Johnson, to track them down and negotiate for their release. He is a freed slave trying to build an independent life for his family. I learned after I finished the novel that he is based on a historical figure; not much is known about him except that he did go in search of his kidnapped family. I don't want this to be a spoiler, so won't tell you any more than that.


There are also chapters about a Quaker agent for the Office of Indian Affairs. He wants justice and peace for the Indians, but has a fundamental lack of understanding of what is important to them. He cannot get his head around the fact that the people he is trying to help will never be content to be farmers settled on one piece of land.


Jiles writes with enormous sympathy for her characters. And the language is absolutely beautiful while seldom being self-consciously poetic. Read this book. Just read it.



""Sure you think it's romantic at first but wait 'til you sit there five days onna sore ass sleeping in Indian shacks and eating Yoka and some hunka nameless meat like the smoked pancreas of a two toed sloth and all night you hear them fiddle f---g with the motor- they got it bolted to the porch - ‘buuuuurt spluuuu . . . . Ut . . . . spluuuu . .ut,’ and you can’t sleep hearing the motor start and die all night and then it starts to rain.""

Can anyone guess the source of this?