The World as I Found It by Bruce Duffy. A historical novel about the lives of the philosophers Wittgenstein, Russell, and Murray. A first novel, by the way. Wonderful writing. Describing Murray at table, bent over his meal, "placid as a cropping beef." And later, in a battle scene from WWI, after the two sides have come together over the trenches for a Christmas celebration, "In the woods, refugees ate weeds and died like little flies." That is the most significant use of the word "little" that has ever been seen. I shall be buying Duffy's new book about Rimbaud.
Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor. Where great writing meets a big, big story. I was vaguely aware of the story of the Civil War prison at Andersonville. Great-whatever-grandpa was a corporal in F Company in the 27th Connecticut. But my Civil War history is not good. This book was staggering. If nothing else, look at the bibliography in the back of this book and understand how many years of research went into it. Then take it to the front of the bookstore and buy it.
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer. One of those "should" books. I should have read this before now. Greatly decreases my patience for writers who write books about slightly neurotic middle-class characters who have no real problems. More about that in a later post. For now, I'm just a bit more sad that my grandfather would never talk about his time in the Pacific during WWII. Or maybe I am glad.