Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A few gift ideas

Whilst perusing the featured stacks at the library, I saw a copy of the recently republished Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski. This under-read book would be a great gift for new fathers. The main character escaped wartime France, but his wife and baby son did not. After the war, he receives word that his son may have been found in an orphanage. The story is about his relationship with the boy and the swirl of emotions in fatherhood. Sounds awful, I know, but Laski avoids the maudlin and tells a great, concise story that will stay with you for some time.

Whenever I read a good novel, I compare it to Michael Chabon's Adventures of Kavalier and Klay. I can't think of another novel that exceeds it in overall enjoyment. The characters are wonderful, the setting, World War 2 New York, is alive and the plot is wonderful. The final third is a bit weak compared to the rest, but Chabon is so in love with his material that it is hard not to be as well.

Chances are, you know someone whose life has taken a stumble or two in the last few months. Richard Russo's hilarious Straight Man is a fine book about dealing with life's many disappointments. Skip the self-help books and serve up this one instead. I hope Russo returns to the humor with his next one.

For the fan of horror that is also a fan of the English language, Joe Schreiber's Eat the Dark is great. Excellent pacing, the suggestion of horror rather than its graphic depiction, and the slow revelation of the story make this a rare gem.


Anonymous said...

I like this list very much in spirit. I think it's time all of us stopped doing any holiday shopping, except for books.

That said, my god, I could not stand Kavalier and Klay. I tried, but Michael Chabon is one of those whose appeal just eludes me. (However, although I am not sentimental otherwise, I usually keep books I've been given, even if I didn't like them. I like to look at them and try to figure out why someone thought to give it to me, and that actually always makes me like the book better.)

Happy Thanksgiving--

Tripp said...

Fascinating! Did the comic book part put you off? Have you tried the Yiddish Policeman's Union?

I also have a tendency to keep the books I am given, but not for a reason as interesting as your own. I generally feel guilty if I do.

I never give away ones with inscriptions though. There is something so sad about finding books with inscriptions at used book stores.

aline said...

interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you.

Gift Ideas For Boy