This month’s Now Reading list takes us from Dublin to Troy, from present to past, from marriage to solitude. Download the list here and enjoy!
Literary Reflections Editorial Assistant Merle Huerta shares Everyone’s Got a Story, Ruchama King-Feuerman’s latest anthology. “Written by some of the freshest voices in the Jewish literary world, this compilation of short stories, essays, and fiction paints the Jewish experience, sometimes through an Orthodox lens, with gentle strokes. Each writer reflects deeply on the human condition and personal struggle. But the narrative is so raw and honest, the reader feels almost like a voyeur eavesdropping on their thoughts. Darlene, a wife of twenty years, a German Jew of precise ancestry, attempts to make sense of her intermarriage with a Tunisian Jew. Alan chants the 23rd Psalm in Hebrew over his twenty-two-year-old son’s lifeless body. And Andrew, who dreamed as a child of becoming a racecar driver after spending countless weekends at the track with his father, realizes as a man that his father never really loved the sport. At a point in time when writers like Phillip Roth and Shalom Auslander portray the Jewish experience with acerbic tones, King-Feuerman’s voices are a salve to the psyche. These writers neither make apologies nor try to justify themselves. And their narratives lack sarcasm, which can weary the soul. They simply are; and that in itself makes this collection compelling and relatable to any reader.”
Reviews Co-Editor and Columnist Sybil Lockhart experiences for the first time the joy of reading Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. “Unlike most of my peers, I never read Woolf as a student. (In fact, I’m shockingly poorly read. I was 23 years old before I started to love reading–and now I get to play catch-up.) I’m loving the dreamy quality of her prose. Her voice reminds me of that of my friend Marian Berges who, eighty years later, wrote The Children’s Park for Literary Mama. The reader is allowed to travel in and out of the minds of all the characters fluidly, like a spirit who can visit anyone at will. And Woolf is so very thorough and insightful in her examination of emotional states. No wonder everybody likes her so much. I’m so lucky to have the rest of her work waiting for me to devour.”
Literary Reflections Editor Kathy Moran has almost finished The Lincolns: Portrait of a Marriage by Daniel Mark Epstein. “As the book jacket indicates, this is ‘the first full-length portrait of the marriage in more than fifty years.’ While the book probably doesn’t contain any previously unknown information, it is a thorough account of the Lincolns’ relationship from early years in Springfield, Illinois through his tenure as President.”
Sarah Kilts, Literary Reflections Editor, says, “In anticipation for an upcoming journey to Ireland, I’ve been reading the classic Dubliners by James Joyce. I was surprised to discover in editor Harry Levin’s preface that it was Joyce who helped to create the now widely known and imitated open-narrative genre, quite radical at the time he was writing this some 100 years ago. Dubliners is unique in that it is comprised of 15 short stories, each of which follows different characters through their workaday lives in the city of Dublin. The dark humor and melancholy of the writing are definitively Irish; this evocative book begs to be read while sipping a tea (or a Guinness) by the fireside!”
Columnist Libby Gruner is making her way through The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. II by M.T. Anderson. “The first volume made its way into a column almost two years ago; this one has me riveted with its historical density, its philosophical richness, and its sheer inventiveness. I’ve also just recently finished John Green’s astonishing new Paper Towns, a contemporary young adult novel that draws on sources from Woody Guthrie to Walt Whitman to tell a great story of the end of high school–and much more.”
Finally, Literary Reflections Assistant Christina Speed is reading Helen of Troy by Margaret George. “I am fascinated recently with historical fiction. In this gorgeous epic tale, George weaves historical fact with fiction. She reveals to her reader the multifaceted nuances of the personal struggle Helen faces. All aspects of being a woman are explored: being a lover, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a political force, a human force. Her use of imagery, narrative and dialogue create both a physical and an emotional adventure for the reader that never grows dull.”