February 8, 2008

Literary Roundup!

You can't beat the classics. "The Mouse That Roared" is Leonard Wibberly's 1955 satire of the cold war. Read it and learn that, sadly, but also beautifully and hilariously, in more than 50 years nothing has really changed. The whole book is as touching and as whimsical as its dedication, which Wibberly wrote "to all the little nations who over the centuries have done what they could to attain and preserve their freedom. It is from one of them that I am sprung." In the movie adaptation (Netflixing on my coffee table as we speak) Peter Sellers plays three parts and the Duchess of Grand Fenwick is played by Jean Seberg.

"The Nimrod Flipout" is the first Etgar Keret book I've read. How have I never heard of this guy? These stories are short, quirky, hilarious, touching, and profound.

Atonement is as good as everyone says. What I'm noticing is how elegantly plotted the story is. By about page 70 every turn starts to feel inevitable, and from then on it's like watching fate unfold. Yes the writing is beautiful, but I think McEwan's real achievement is the great choices he mades in writing his characters and their story. Not a single false step.

"A Matter of Detail" is the fourth novel by Maniza Naqvi, who is living proof that having a day job needn't slow you down. Earlier this week Maniza gave a delightful reading at Candida's World of Books in Logan Circle. She joked about knowing everyone in the audience, lit a candle to the memory of Benazir Bhutto, and read three beautiful passages from her new novel about life in Karachi. Maniza is a terrific writer and her novel will tell you things about Pakistan you'll never read in the news.

Fiction tells the truth in a way that nothing else can.

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