Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Best People in the World by Justin Tussing

I ran out and got this book as soon as it came out, not because it was excerpted in the New Yorker last summer. Not because it was reviewed in the New York Times Book Review two weeks ago. Not because Tussing is a product of the Iowa Writer's Workshop. But because it was recommended to me by my former student, Tussing's friend and fellow writer, Salvatore Scibona, whose name appears in the acknowledgements. I was intrigued by the story of a high school boy falling in love with his teacher. But I was more intrigued with the character of Shiloh Tanager, the derelict who becomes the third wanderer in the group when the boy and his teacher leave Kentucky for the bliss of an abandoned house in Vermont. Their roadtrip turns into a journey to self-discovery. I loved Tussing's narrative voice, but I was a little confused by the conversations between two nameless men which begin each section of the novel. This is a book I can't wait to recommend to all of my reading friends.

Friday, February 03, 2006

On Beauty by Zadie Smith

When I first started reading this book, I walked around wondering why everyone wasn't talking about it. I loved the characters, the expose of liberal arts college campuses, the irony. I didn't make it all the way through White Teeth when I tried reading it a few years back, but I couldn't put On Beauty down. Then, somewhere in the middle of the book I lost interest. The characters didn't seem as real to me. The plot got slow. I kept at it and the end was awesome. Once again, I am walking around wondering who everyone isn't talking about this great novel.