How does a child recover from a tragedy that takes his entire family away from him? And how can the people around him help him navigate his grief and make a new life on his own? Those are the questions faced by the title character in Dear Edward (2020, Random House), the latest novel by Ann Napolitano. So far I’m finding it compulsively readable. Napolitano uses an unusual construction that despite my initial reservations is working beautifully to both ratchet up and relieve tension in carefully controlled doses.
Around this time every year, I try to read at least one baseball book — call it the reader’s version of spring training, a way to re-focus my spectator vision from the hectic action of college basketball to the more stately rhythms of my favorite sport. This year’s selection is a book I’ve had on my shelf for a few years, Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere (Vintage Books, 2014) by Lucas Mann. Mann’s focus is on the Clinton (Iowa) LumberKings, a minor-league baseball team at the Class A (lowest) level. The book seems more relevant than ever as the LumberKings are one of the teams that MLB has proposed eliminating in their radical restructuring of the current minor-league system.
My March reading month is starting out like a lion:
Lethal Passage by Erik Larson (1995, Vintage Books) From one of my favorite nonfiction authors, a short but powerful book tracing a handgun from its manufacture through its journey into the hands of a disturbed teenager who uses it in a school shooting. I wondered if a 25-year-old book would seem dated, but sadly the present state of gun control in the United States means the contents here are evergreen, at least as much as I’ve read so far.
The Cold, Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty (originally published 2012; I’m reading a newer ebook edition). This is the first book in a new-to-me series, recommended by my friend Mamie. Sean Duffy is a Detective Sergeant with the Belfast Police in 1980s Northern Ireland. As a Catholic, he’s viewed with suspicion by both sides in the still-raging Troubles as he tries to solve a murder. Very atmospheric so far.
I start this post-holiday week with three books on the go:
Rat Race by Dick Francis (originally published 1971 but I’m reading a brand-new ebook edition just published by Canelo) is a re-read for me. We’ve got a little group read going on over at LibraryThing where we will read one Francis book every other month. It’s been a fun chance to introduce one of my most reliable “comfort read” authors to new readers, and to reminisce with others who like me have been reading his horse-related mysteries for years. Someday I should write a post here about all the reasons why I love Dick Francis.
Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope (originally published in 1860; I’m reading an public domain ebook from Project Gutenberg) is the fourth volume in Trollope’s Barsetshire Chronicles, a series of books set in the same fictional English county. I don’t think I’d have dared tackle these books without the help of another group read at LibraryThing back in 2012. Especially in the earlier books, there is a lot of arcana about church history and customs, and the political intrigues of the day, that this semi-modern American was completely unaware of. Thanks to the group leader Liz, I could actually make enough sense of the first book, The Warden, to realize how much I enjoyed Trollope’s sly social commentary.
Finally, I’m reading an ARC of Jamie Mason’s The Hidden Things(Gallery Books, August 2019), a thriller that is entirely of the current moment. What are the ramifications when a video goes viral on social media? What completely unintended consequences can arise in the lives of those caught up in the moment? Those are the questions faced by a family whose lives unravel in a cascading series of events sparked by secrets that won’t stay in the past.