I guess I needed one more big novel before summer, so I picked up Zadie Smith’s NW, and it is big and wide and expansive. Reviewers have called it difficult but I’m calling it beautiful, and just a little demanding. I first read Smith’s White Teeth and was hooked on her smart, chaotic, wild-ride novels. NW delivers and how. Smith is young and ambitious and so are her books. Dare yourself to read one and hold on. My favorite of hers to date: On Beauty. It has a gripping truth about family on every page.
I am also reading Sea Biscuit author Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, which made many best books of 2012 lists. Her sense of both action and detail is once again impressive. In Unbroken the time is the Second World War, the place Hawaii and surrounding islands. Our hero is in the Air Guard, but he would rather be training for his second Olympic games. He is a runner, a kid, a son, brother and fighter. Story and history combine and entertain, even teach on several levels, including world politics, the politics of the Olympics, and the deep history we each carry in our family stories. The dance of these layers is the real hero, and we cheer until the end.
I look forward to some lighter, brighter reading this spring. I have one of my personal hero’s new books on my kitchen table waiting for me, warming me in anticipation: The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg. I am also looking forward to Mary Pipher’s new book The Green Boat and Eve Enzler’s In the Body of the World and Isabelle Allende’s new novel Maya’s Notebook. Ah, a new season, new reading, familiar voices and new worlds to discover. Even some surprises, I hope.
Happy sweet spring reading to all. I welcome your recommendations anytime. Just leave a comment and I will read with you!