Books I’ve read recently:
In Boris Fishman’s A Replacement Life, magazine journalist Slava Gelman interviews old Russian Jews in Brooklyn, NY, and files Holocaust restitution claims on their behalf, massaging the facts a bit here and there to fortify the applications. What’s truth? Is he justified in stretching it?
Sweetness #9 by Stephan Eirik Clarke will make your food shopping trips take even longer. Chemist David Leveraux works as a flavorist-in-training, testing a new artificial sweetener, “Sweetness #9.” He notices unusual side effects in the laboratory rats and monkeys, and years later, his wife becomes obese, his daughter unresponsive, and his son speaks without verbs. Is the sweetener to blame?
Barbara Kingsolver novels are usually provocative and Flight Behavior is no exception. Climate change in the form of a strange monarch butterfly migration in rural Tennessee provides the background for Dellarobia Turnbow’s transformation. Full of characters—local townsfolk, scientists, and media caricatures. Funny yet serious.
Unlike Edan Lepucki’s California. This apocalyptic story, an end of the United States as we know it, due to extreme weather—hurricanes, earthquakes, snowstorms—offers little hope and a huge dose of cynicism, yet I still felt compelled to finish it, eager to know how and if the protagonists survive.
Ash Thompson is a soldier for the Union in the Civil W and a woman in disguise. She left her husband to tend the farm so she could do her part. Laird Hunt’s Neverhome portrays the horrors of war through Ash’s eyes and voice.
And finally, a play. William Luce’s 1976 Tony Award winning “The Belle of Amherst” brings us inside Emily Dickinson’s 1883 home. A one -character play, this revival stars Joely Richardson. Told through letters and poems, we hear the despair the writer felt upon her constant rejection of her poems from the Atlantic Monthly. She describes her life, dispelling her image as being shy, offering bits of childhood memories and her black cake recipe. This quote stuck with me: “Hold your parents tenderly; the world will seem a strange and lonely place when they are gone.”