Books I read in August

September 20, 2022 · 20:49

Karen Joy Fowler Stand was shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize and is a historical fiction about the family of John Wilkes Booth, the man who shot Abraham Lincoln in 1865. Fowler has deliberately ensured that Booth and Lincoln’s assassination are not the focus here, and that the twist takes place instead. against the background of his relatives spanning a whole century. His English father, Junius, was a bigamist and famous Shakespearean actor who fathered 10 children with Mary Ann Holmes in rural Maryland after he left his first wife. Fowler is certainly a versatile author—Booth is just as different from the contemporary We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which was shortlisted for the award in 2014—but I’m not too surprised her latest novel didn’t make it. to make the list announced this month. While the parallels with modern events are interesting, the plot went off on too many tangents that didn’t really go anywhere. “Booth” may also appeal to those with more knowledge of 19th century American history than I do.

Our Fathers, Rebecca, waitI immediately looked for a copy Our Fathers by Rebecca Wait. in July after reading her latest novel I’m sorry You Feel That Way. Set on a fictional remote Scottish Hebridean island, John Beard kills his wife Catherine and their son and daughter. Their youngest son, Tommy, is the sole survivor and returns to the island after many years. In short and relaxed prose, Waits creates a tense and melancholic atmosphere in a tight-knit community still affected by the traumatic events that happened all those years ago. The residents’ frantic attempts to talk to Tommy are well observed in scenes reminiscent of the funeral set in I’m Sorry You Feel That Way. “Our Fathers” is a subtle exploration of toxic masculinity, where the inability to express emotions turns into unspeakable violence.

Appeal by Janice HallettCall by Janice Hallett is a murder mystery told through e-mails and text messages between members of the amateur theater group, the Fairway Players. Law students Femi and Charlotte are tasked with sifting through documents to prove that one of Roderick Tanner QC’s clients has been wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of a cast member. During rehearsals for the production of All My Sons, it is revealed that a crowdfunding appeal for the director’s granddaughter’s cancer treatment is causing tension between the original group and a couple of newcomers. The epistolary format forces the reader to read between the lines for clues about the characters’ motives and whether they really are who they say they are through their correspondence. It is a novel that demands quite a bit of effort from the reader, given the increasingly complex plot and large cast of characters with 15 suspects, of which Issy is the most memorable. However, the focus on who is who at the beginning definitely pays off and the conclusion is cleverly done.

Scoundrels Patrick Raden KeefePatrick Raden Keefe Rogues is a diverse collection of the New Yorker journalist’s long-form work about “the true stories of blockbusters, killers, rebels and crooks,” according to the subtitle. They include a German wine collector accused of forgery, the sister of a notorious Dutch gangster who turned him in to the police, a Harvard-educated neuroscientist who shot six of her colleagues at the University of Alabama, and profiles of Mark Burnett, who created it. series The Apprentice and famous chef Anthony Bourdain. This is the third Raden Keefe book I’ve read so far this year, following his Sackler Family Empire of Pain and the Orwell Award-winning Say Nothing. As investigative journalism, the articles are provocative and entertaining and explore many topics that I might not have come across anywhere else.

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