In addition to selling, moving from our house of 26 years into another Loveland patio home this summer which involved a lot of recycling, selling stuff, and getting rid of unnecessaries as well as packing Longs Peak Book Company into 105 banker's boxes weighing 40 to 60 pounds each and moving all of that up 10 steps and down 16 into the new house, I've been reading. And what's worthy of your and my time and effort?
As I've said before, any year that brings a new book from James Sallis is, by definition, a good year. Sallis, author of the cult novel Drive and many other books of mystery, translation, poetry and essay brought two into 2019. Difficult Lives, originally published in 1993 and now republished with Hitching Rides are Sallis' seminal essays celebrating and explaining the earlier giants of noir fiction Chester Himes, David Goodis and Jim Thompson who,it could be said were Sallis' creative "fathers." These giants of fiction are joined with contemporary noir writers,some well-known, some unknown in the second half of the book, Hitching Rides. Sallis wrote introductory essays for novels by James Lee Burke, Patricia Highsmith, Paco Taibo, George Pelecanos, Charles Willeford and Shirley Jackson as well as Gerald Kersh, Boris Vian, and Jean-Patrick Manchette. Read this and better understand Noir.
Sallis' new novel for 2019 Sarah Jane is a tour-de-force as told through the eyes and voice of a young woman who lives in the rural South, had a tough childhood and made some bad choices that led to a court-ordered military stint. Then she's back waitressing, recovering from a bad marriage, and learning about law enforcement when she's thrust into the role of sheriff when her boss disappears. As she goes through her daily business she investigates the mystery of this and the impact on the community and her.
An Advanced Review Copy(ARC) I received and read will be published 02/04/2020 and is entitled A Good Neighborhood by best-selling novelist Therese Anne Fowler. An ecology professor at a North Carolina university lives with her bi-racial son in the title neighborhood and all is good as her son finishes his high school career and prepares to go as a scholarship student to California to continue his study as a classical guitarist. New neighbors move in to a scrape-off, mcmansion next door with a in-ground swimming pool that threatens the roots and life of the professor's beloved, historic oak tree. Then the teenage daughter of the new neighbors begins a relationship with the boy next door and modern life and culture intercede.
William Kent Krueger offers another winning stand-alone novel apart from his Cork O'Connell police-procedural series and his previous award winner, Ordinary Grace. This Tender Land is set in 1932 south-central Minnesota as two white brothers, 8 year old Odie, the book's narrator, and 12 year old Albert are orphaned and sent to the Lincoln Indian Training School, which is equal parts concentration and labor camp for area farmers. Their horrible experience with the woman who runs the school and a sadistic teacher forces the boys to escape with a Sioux boy and a 4 year old girl whose mother was killed in a tornado. The plan is to take a stolen canoe down the Gilead and Minnesota Rivers into the Mississippi and get to St. Louis where the brothers have a relative who might care for them. If this sounds like Huck Finn, it is intentional but carried off brilliantly by Krueger who peoples the book with fascinating characters and detail about life during the Depression.
My final book under consideration is The Push:A Climber's Journey of Endurance, Risk, and Going Beyond Limits written by world-class mountain climber, Tommy Caldwell. Having seen the multi-award winning movie Dawn Wall several times and met the climber-author Caldwell, I felt compelled to read his memoir about his life before, during preparation and the actual climb and afterwards.And I'm very glad I did! This book goes so much beyond the film to explore his life, psyche, training, challenges, triumphs and failures. Actually, the movie, first and the book,second make a great package as Caldwell and some assistant writers and editors really lay out the challenge of attacking something no one ever thought was possible and working for 7 long years to plan, attempt, fail and eventually succeed. This book is THE REAL DEAL!!!