Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Thank goodness for Zachary Lazar!! For awhile there I was ready to throw my book critic hat into the ring and wait for someone to stomp on it - there was a long period there where I was positive that the publishing industry was done for. Then along came Sway by Zachary Lazar. Tackling three separate story lines set in the late 1960s - the founding of the Rolling Stones, the Manson family and the strange life of filmmaker Kenneth Anger - Lazar leads the reader on a historical, emotional and physical journey that is at times unsettling but is always remarkable.
A fictionalized account of these three events, the reader enters the back halls of poverty ridden London, the mansions of the British countryside, the Laurel Canyon ranches of record producers and movie stars, the hippie commune of Manson. As each narrator takes us on a journey into the lives, both tragic and profound, we are propelled into their world, a world that we want to learn about, a world filled with freedome and a sense of absolute angst. Lazar's careful use of words adds imagery to each story - this is not simply a book we read but rather one we live. Lazar is my new hero.
Little Brown, August 2008
Imagine if one event in your life was so unforgettable, so unforgiveable as to define the rest of your waking days. That is the dilemma addressed in George Pelecanos' The Turnaround. Pelecanos, a writer who seems to have one of the keenest insights into the human soul, tells the story of two boys, one from the right side of the tracks and one from the wrong side of the tracks. When a prank leads the young white Greek boy into the African American side of town, a crime occurs that will mark both boys for life.
Time passes and these young men grow into adults; adults who wish to forgive and forget the past before their lives are over. This notion of redemption echoes throughout this beautifully written novel; Pelecanos takes us deep inside the lives of men who have journeyed down a path that seemed fated for each. Hailed as a mystery writer, Pelecanos, a television writer, brakes genre labels - his writing combines the human insight of Steinbeck and the keen sense of timing of Stephen King. Pelecanos is truly one of the great writers of our time.
Annie Fleming is juggling it all - work, a family, a marriage where communication has become rare. When she loses her job (a job that defines her), she soon realizes how much of her daughter's life she has missed...including her love of soccer and her desire to be a member of the best team in town, run by soccer fanatic Winslow West. Soon Annie finds herself focusing her misplaced energy towards daughter Charlotte's sport and before long she has become one of those soccer moms she always hated.
Star, a former entertainment executive, effectively captures the importance of sport in suburbia. With characters who manipulate, undermine and commit crimes to further their children's soccer careers, the author delivers a fun and honest portrayal of community in the 21st century. Check out Star's recent interview in the New York Times where she discusses how she came to write the book.