[bksvol-discuss] Re: New York Times 10 Best Books of 2008

  • From: "Julia" <julia.kulak@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 6 Dec 2008 18:50:02 -0500

These sound great, thanks for passing them along. 
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Bob 
  To: bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
  Sent: Saturday, December 06, 2008 3:31 PM
  Subject: [bksvol-discuss] Re: New York Times 10 Best Books of 2008

  Many thanks Cindy.

  I see much reading in my future.

    ----- Original Message ----- 
    From: Cindy Reece 
    To: bksvol-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
    Sent: Saturday, December 06, 2008 10:42 AM
    Subject: [bksvol-discuss] New York Times 10 Best Books of 2008

    I love this time of year when all of the magazines, newspapers and tv tell 
us the Top 10, 20 100 things of the year. I then figure out how many I've 

    This will be published in the Sunday Books section of the NY Times. I've 
noted which of the books are on Bookshare. I will also go through the 100 
Notable Books of 2008 (I'm not sure the links will work.)

    Cindy Reece

    December 14, 2008
    The 10 Best Books of 2008 
    The editors of the Book Review have selected these titles from the list of 
100 Notable Books of 2008.
    Thirteen Stories
    By Steven Millhauser.
    Alfred A. Knopf, $24. 
    In his first collection in five years, a master fabulist in the tradition 
of Poe and Nabo­kov invents spookily plausible parallel universes in which the 
deepest human emotions and yearnings are transformed into their monstrous 
opposites. Millhauser is especially attuned to the purgatory of adolescence. In 
the title story, teenagers attend sinister “laugh parties”; in another, a 
mysteriously afflicted girl hides in the darkness of her attic bedroom. Time 
and again these parables revive the possibility that “under this world there is 
another, waiting to be born.” (Excerpt)
    (Bookshare) A MERCY
    By Toni Morrison.
    Alfred A. Knopf, $23.95. 
    The fate of a slave child abandoned by her mother animates this allusive 
novel — part Faulknerian puzzle, part dream-song — about orphaned women who 
form an eccentric household in late-17th-century America. Morrison’s farmers 
and rum traders, masters and slaves, indentured whites and captive Native 
Americans live side by side, often in violent conflict, in a lawless, ripe 
American Eden that is both a haven and a prison — an emerging nation whose 
identity is rooted equally in Old World superstitions and New World appetites 
and fears. (First Chapter) 
    By Joseph O’Neill.
    Pantheon Books, $23.95. 
    O’Neill’s seductive ode to New York — a city that even in bad times 
stubbornly clings to its belief “in its salvific worth” — is narrated by a 
Dutch financier whose privileged Manhattan existence is upended by the events 
of Sept. 11, 2001. When his wife departs for London with their small son, he 
stays behind, finding camaraderie in the unexpectedly buoyant world of 
immigrant cricket players, most of them West Indians and South Asians, 
including an entrepreneur with Gatsby-size aspirations. (First Chapter)
    By Roberto Bolaño. Translated by Natasha Wimmer.
    Farrar, Straus & Giroux, cloth and paper, $30. 
    Bolaño, the prodigious Chilean writer who died at age 50 in 2003, has 
posthumously risen, like a figure in one of his own splendid creations, to the 
summit of modern fiction. This latest work, first published in Spanish in 2004, 
is a mega- and meta-detective novel with strong hints of apocalyptic 
foreboding. It contains five separate narratives, each pursuing a different 
story with a cast of beguiling characters — European literary scholars, an 
African-American journalist and more — whose lives converge in a Mexican border 
town where hundreds of young women have been brutally murdered. (Excerpt)
    By Jhumpa Lahiri.
    Alfred A. Knopf, $25. 
    There is much cultural news in these precisely observed studies of 
modern-day Bengali-Americans — many of them Ivy-league strivers ensconced in 
prosperous suburbs who can’t quite overcome the tug of traditions nurtured in 
Calcutta. With quiet artistry and tender sympathy, Lahiri creates an impressive 
range of vivid characters — young and old, male and female, self-knowing and 
self-deluding — in engrossing stories that replenish the classic themes of 
domestic realism: loneliness, estrangement and family discord. (Excerpt)

    (Bookshare) THE DARK SIDE
    The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American 
    By Jane Mayer.
    Doubleday, $27.50. 
    Mayer’s meticulously reported descent into the depths of President Bush’s 
anti­terrorist policies peels away the layers of legal and bureaucratic 
maneuvering that gave us Guantánamo Bay, “extraordinary rendition,” “enhanced” 
interrogation methods, “black sites,” warrantless domestic surveillance and all 
the rest. But Mayer also describes the efforts ofunsung heroes, tucked deep 
inside the administration, who risked their careers in the struggle to balance 
the rule of law against the need to meet a threat unlike any other in the 
nation’s history. 
    (Bookshare) THE FOREVER WAR
    By Dexter Filkins.
    Alfred A. Knopf, $25. 
    The New York Times correspondent, whose tours of duty have taken him from 
Afghanistan in 1998 to Iraq during the American intervention, captures a decade 
of armed struggle in harrowingly detailed vignettes. Whether interviewing 
jihadists in Kabul, accompanying marines on risky patrols in Falluja or 
visiting grieving families in Baghdad, Filkins makes us see, with almost 
hallucinogenic immediacy, the true human meaning and consequences of the “war 
on terror.” (First Chapter)
    By Julian Barnes.
    Alfred A. Knopf, $24.95. 
    This absorbing memoir traces Barnes’s progress from atheism (at age 20) to 
agnosticism (at 60) and examines the problem of religion not by rehashing the 
familiar quarrel between science and mystery, but rather by weighing the 
timeless questions of mortality and aging. Barnes distills his own experiences 
— and those of his parents and brother — in polished and wise sentences that 
recall the writing of Montaigne, Flaubert and the other French masters he 
includes in his discussion. (First Chapter)
    Death and the American Civil War
    By Drew Gilpin Faust.
    Alfred A. Knopf, $27.95. 
    In this powerful book, Faust, the president of Harvard, explores the 
legacy, or legacies, of the “harvest of death” sown and reaped by the Civil 
War. In the space of four years, 620,000 Americans died in uniform, roughly the 
same number as those lost in all the nation’s combined wars from the Revolution 
through Korea. This doesn’t include the thousands of civilians killed in 
epidemics, guerrilla raids and draft riots. The collective trauma created “a 
newly centralized nation-state,” Faust writes, but it also established 
“sacrifice and its memorialization as the ground on which North and South would 
ultimately reunite.” (First Chapter)
    The Authorized Biography of V. S. Naipaul
    By Patrick French.
    Alfred A. Knopf, $30. 
    The most surprising word in this biography is “authorized.” Naipaul, the 
greatest of all postcolonial authors, cooperated fully with French, opening up 
a huge cache of private letters and diaries and supplementing the revelations 
they disclosed with remarkably candid interviews. It was a brave, and wise, 
decision. French, a first-rate biographer, has a novelist’s command of story 
and character, and he patiently connects his subject’s brilliant oeuvre with 
the disturbing facts of an unruly life.

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