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.
Adam recommends: DEATH IN SPRING by Mercè Rodoreda, translated by Martha Tennent (Open Letter Books, September 2015)
"Death in Spring, a Catalan novel by Mercè Rodoreda—written after Rodoreda was forced into exile following the Spanish Civil War—is strange in narrative and, in its language, poetic. The story of a mysterious town is told by the novel, focusing on its idiosyncratic customs, such as filling the mouths of the dead with cement so that their souls will not escape before burying those bodies inside of trees, or sending a man to swim in the river rushing under the town to divine whether or not the town will be washed away by a flood. All of this is seen and told through the eyes of a fourteen-year-old boy who struggles to make sense of these cryptic and violent rituals, and to make sense of his stepmother, herself only a teenager. The book might bring to mind an intersection of Faulkner and Garcia-Marquez. It can become a bit too 'poetic' at moments, and its 'magical realism' a bit overly familiar at times, but these are small complaints, and this is a fascinating, unique and accessible, yet nuanced novel."
Amy recommends: MY MOTHER SHE KILLED ME, MY FATHER HE ATE ME: Forty New Fairy Tales, edited by Kate Bernheimer (Penguin, 2010)
Genre: Short story anthology
"Fairy tales provide a template upon which many modern writers have riffed. These iconic stories of evil stepmothers, helpful animals, and instant love are as familiar to many of us as the beat of our own hearts. No wonder, then, that so many writers have embroidered upon these tales. Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, Robin McKinley’s Deerskin, and Tanith Lee’s Red as Blood are only a few examples. In My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, traditional fairy tales twist and turn, evolving into stories rich and strange. Shelley Jackson’s “The Swan Brothers” presents the strong sister of the tale as a performance artist, spinning nettles into thread for her brothers’ coats as visitors watch. In “The Mermaid in the Tree” by Timothy Schaffert, a child-bride talks to the ghost of a mermaid. Kevin Brockmeier’s “A Day in the Life of Rumpelstiltskin” presents the aftermath to the traditional end of the tale, when Rumpelstiltskin is so angry at being tricked of his prize that he splits himself in two. This exploration of fairy tales is well worth the read for any lover of the classic stories, as well as those who appreciate the wonders of our modern writers’ imaginations"
Kim recommends: DANDELION WINE by Ray Bradbury (Bantam Books, 1985)
"Written in 1957 by master storyteller Ray Bradbury, this delightful book differs from his other creations. Dandelion Wine is neither dystopian, nor horror, nor science fiction. It is visceral autobiographical fiction— a series of vignettes about an idyllic 1928 boyhood summer. Bradbury writes vivid scenes that illustrate the joys and losses universal to childhood. The novel reads like a memoir, except for the presence of an omniscient narrator. Dandelion Wine conveys a lyrical sense of wonder that inspires the reader to pause and read passages aloud, as in, 'They spilled downhill, the sun in their mouths, in their eyes like shattered lemon glass, gasping like trout thrown on a bank, laughing till they cried.' "
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.