LLA Reads: Reflecting the Past
At Louisville Literary Arts, we all love to read. But our interests in literature are as varied as hats on Derby Day. Some of us gravitate toward poetry, while others prefer an epic novel. A few of us love reading creative nonfiction. In this space, we recommend recent books we've read, and hope that you'll find something just right for your reading list.
Amy recommends: THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen (Harper, 2014)
"Many years ago, Kelsea’s ancestors endured the Crossing in order to create a New World. The Tearling is one of the countries that was created, and for a long time this country has been under the thumb of the Red Queen, ruler of the adjoining country Mortmesne. Now 19 and of age to become the Tearling’s ruler, Kelsea decides to go against the Red Queen and start helping the downtrodden people of the Tearling.
"Johansen’s debut novel is a bracing work of fantasy, with a strong female protagonist who puts the rights of her people above all else. There’s other intriguing characters as well, including Kelsea’s guard Mace and a woman she rescued from abuse, Andalie. The emphasis throughout is on Kelsea learning how to rule, as well as her experiencing the odd powers of a sapphire necklace she’s inherited. There’s also tantalizing hints about the Crossing – why did some of Earth’s population decide they had to go to a new land? And where precisely is the Tearling and Mortmesne, if not Earth? Johansen also grapples with the issues of violence against women and slavery. This is a gritty and original novel, with a story that will continue for two more volumes. "
Adam recommends: THE ETERNAL CITY by Kathleen Graber (Princeton University Press, 2010)
"Kathleen Graber’s second book, THE ETERNAL CITY, was the first book in Princeton University Press’s relaunched Contemporary Poets Series, edited by Paul Muldoon then, and by Susan Stewart now. This wonderfully energetic book opens with its title poem-cycle in which passages from the writings of Marcus Aurelius and a millennium of human history and culture are interspersed with the narrator’s internal life. Hesiod, Kundera, Walter Benjamin, Adorno, Blake, Augustine, Linnaeus, Freud, Kobayashi Issa – they all play a part in this volume which brings the intellect down to earth, creating deeply human, actually touching (rather than sentimental) and vigorous poems out of the conceptual and the historical."
Alice recommends: EVERYBODY RISE by Stephanie Clifford (St. Martins, Aug. 2015)
"Clifford’s forthcoming debut is a contemporary novel about the NYC summer house set, and how one young woman rose to the top of society – despite her white collar job and her father’s professional scandal – by playing the part, and following etiquette laid down 100 years ago. The old-money quirks, judgments, and lack of concern for costs haven’t changed much since Edith Warton’s day, so in reading this, I almost felt transported into the 19th century save for the convertibles, social media sites, and credit card bills. At a certain point, I stopped routing for Evelyn Beegan to make it, and started wondering when she would fall, because with her rising debts and lies, it was clear a fall was imminent.
"I found a couldn’t look away, and although this book brilliantly addresses the addiction of social acceptance, the bizarrely unchanging breed of society’s old families, the thoughtless excess required to maintain a high-profile lifestyle, it also has such a compelling cast of complex characters dealing with modern-day problems – a gay man struggling to come out to his family, a woman working in the upper echelons of the male-dominated finance world, a father trying to explain to his daughter how he slipped in his morals. This juxtaposition of a modern setting and cast among ancient civilities is a clever achievement and a compelling read."
If you would like us to consider recommending your book, please contact LLA Reads editor Alice, who will let you know how to get your book to our readers.