Monday, February 9, 2009

Wherein Andrea's staff pick is upstaged by my obsession with books about Frank Lloyd Wright

Andrea, the other half of our UBC team, recommends T. C. Boyle's Talk Talk this month, calling it "a fascinating glimpse into the snarly issue of identity theft. Boyle never fails to be provocative and entertaining, and to impress with his use of language."

I thought it especially appropriate to highlight her pick today as his new book The Women comes out tomorrow. In the New York Times Joanna Scott was full of praise and called it "Boyle at his best" while Michiko Kakutani described it as "dreary" and "a tedious, predictable melodrama." Yipes! I found it a bit odd, actually, that, neither made reference to Loving Frank, Nancy Horan's novel from 2007 in their reviews as it also is a historical fiction based on Frank Lloyd Wright's personal life--though Howard Frank Mosher does in his review in the Boston Globe.

My favorite part of his review, though, is the beginning when he says he would never want to live in a Wright house because they look uncomfortable. This is because I spent a good amount of time in a Wright house growing up (my Great-Aunt Sara and Great-Uncle Smithy built it. You can see pictures here and here and here). As a small child I adored it--it was cozy and beautiful. But my mom, who is 5'11, said she always felt like a huge galumphing giant whenever we were there. I do miss it though I wonder if I would feel more like her now that I'm a lot bigger than I was at 10.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Staff Picks--Carl

Carl is one of our used-book sellers (He's a bookseller who works in the Used Book Cellar. I love that way more than I should.). He also publishes poetry and writes an occasional blog about the UBC that you can read here and here. He also has amazing taste.

Carl's current recommendation is for William H. Gass's Cartesian Sonata and Other Novellas. Here's his favorite passage (from page 29): "All her senses were acute, but she could hear and see and feel most marvelously well: the tremor in her neighbor’s face, the scrape of cloud, the grumble of molasses, like her soul, folding from its bottle..." Read more about the book here and more of Carl's recommendations here.