40. Apex Hides the Hurt, Colson Whitehead. 4-25, p. 212
41. Manhunt, James L. Swanson. 4-28, p. 391
Three recommendations, two enthusiastic and one qualified.
The Promise of Happiness by Justin Cartwright and Manhunt by James L. Swanson receive the enthusiastic recommendations.
Cartwright’s novel is a superb exploration of what it means to be a member of a family. The Judd’s are delightfully dysfunctional and, admittedly, a bit exceptional – I’ve never known anyone who had a daughter in federal prison or a son who made millions via the Internet.
But set that quibble aside. This is a superbly written, superbly told book. Each character is vividly realized. And Cartwright simply, but skillfully pulls back the curtains to unveil life within a family; life, at once, both difficult, but necessary and vital.
Here’s one passage, typical of Cartwright’s insight:
“This is family. In the family you are a certain kind of person. Your mother, my mother in particular, piles one half-truth about your character on another until she has built up a whole structure, a fabricated person. It begins in small ways: you are untidy or reliable or good with figures or you each too fast; you’re frightened of frogs, you hold your pen in the wrong way, and then these threads are woven into the family tapestry, a sort of
My current measures of fine fiction are
There are many books on Abraham Lincoln, but do I not recall ever reading one quite like Swanson’s Manhunt, which focuses on
It is a grim, but fascinating story; a strange and unsavory footnote in American history. The book is both well-researched and well-written and well worth reading.
Whitehead’s unnamed protagonist is a nomenclature consultant. He names things, from cars to multicultural adhesive bandages. Now, he’s hired to settle a tug-of-war between a town council who can’t agree on the new name for their town.
Whitehead’s writing, like green olives, is something you have to learn to like. I have. It’s not great prose—not by a long stretch—but it is delicious, wicked satire.