The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards
This week I decided it was time to reread a classic from my childhood that was one of my favorites. I picked up the weirdest one to begin, because why not? The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles is just as magical as I remember, and even more so because I appreciate the adult themes about it so much more. What animal would you take home from the zoo if you could? Well… why not the Whangdoodle? The Potter siblings are confused at this question when asked by The Professor. But are also curious. And so begins the story of using your imagination to literally get yourself to another land (Whangdoodleland) where rivers sing, flowers smell like fresh bread, boats run on jokes and the last of the Whangdoodle reigns. This book was written by Julie Andrews (Edwards) in the early 70s and it holds up beautifully. It’s gorgeous, wise, and funny. And you know what? I’m really excited to meet the Whangdoodle all over again. It’s been a while since I have, but I’m sure he’s got some wise things to say. A fantastic and wonderous read for anyone… young or not so young! You can find copies of The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
Wait Till You See Me Dance by Deb Olin Unferth
I’ve found a treasure between the covers of Deb Olin Unferth’s latest collection of short fiction, Wait Till You See Me Dance. I haven’t been this wowed and astounded since discovering the works of George Saunders and Flannery O’Connor (this is saying a lot!). Each piece serves as a mini diagnosis of our everyday anxieties and distress – often, the characters are sad, lonely losers looking to find a spark in their lives, a little something more – and offers (a cure) hope amidst their constant trials and failures. Each time feels timely and quite relevant in this day and age when up is down and everything isn’t always as it seems.Her style is daring and the best kind of weird – I’d vouch and say she deserves a seat among the great short story writers of our time. So go on, enter these bizarre worlds Unferth has concocted – full of unlikable women, unwitting hostages, victims of clandestine science experiments, and hopeless mothers (oh, and one having to do with pretzels)! You can find SIGNED copies of Wait Till You See Me Dance on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson
Steve Erickson’s Shadowbahn presents an intoxicating rabbit hole of re-imaginings of the last American century that’s simultaneously imbued with a kill-your-idols mentality, but also a reverence for the things that bind us. Erikson’s deconstruction of American cultural identity and collective memory hinges on and branches out from a single event: the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. It is 20 years after the attacks, and the Twin Towers have mysteriously re-manifested in the middle of the South Dakota Badlands. This book is, aside from a really engaging read, a very interesting exercise in assessing one’s personal connection to history. As a New Yorker, I’d always felt that the rest of the country co-opted 9/11, which was for me a visceral memory, but in reading this, I was forced to consider that once something becomes a broad historical reference point and a part of the collective consciousness, how much claim do I really have to it? It becomes part of the ether. History, in the way we connect to it, takes on a mystical, religious quality. Without these reference points, we are adrift. There’s so much going on in this book, a book could be written on it. You can find copies of Shadowbahn on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
Sunshine State: Essays by Sarah Gerard
I am reading Sunshine State by Sarah Gerard, which comes out in April, and it is a wonder. Her essays are exactly what I want them to be — emotional, seeking, pointed, and academic. So far I’ve read exactly two, one, an engrossing examination of her oldest, most intense friendship, the other, a fascinating exploration of the origins of Christian Science through the lens of her parents’ histories. I love it, I love it — it’s the kind of book that changes your wiring and honey, I am ready for a tuneup. Soon, you can find copies of Sunshine State on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.