Independent American book sellers have listed their picks for the 2012 Indies Choice Book Awards and the E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards. If you haven’t read them yet, click on the title for the review and decide where to start reading…
Adult Fiction Book of the Year: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year: Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton
Adult Debut Book of the Year: The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht
When was the last time you read a book aloud? Even to yourself? The E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards offer some ways to start.
E.B. White Read-Aloud Award – Middle Reader:
E.B. White Read-Aloud Award – Picture Book: I Want My Hat Back by Klassen
Short stories appeal to me – a quick fix when a quiet moment needs acceleration. Maile Meloy’s collection of 11 short stories in Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It includes simple, striking plots with flawed characters at the crossroads of deciding which way to have it – when they can’t have it both ways.
Each vignette connects to a dilemma confronting the key character – some funny, others tragic, and the settings range from Montana to the East Coast – one in Argentina. Meloy sometimes makes the decision obvious; other times she will leave you wondering what will happen next – or hoping that you know. My favorites were the first and last stories. In “Travis, B.” a young Montana ranch hand falls in love with a beautiful young lawyer who commutes nine hours one-way twice a week to teach a part-time adult education class. The situation is set for failure – her commute, her teaching job, their differences. Although Meloy plays on the romantic possibilities, the impossibility wins out. In “O Tannenbaum” a stranded couple named Bonnie and Clyde hitch a ride with a family out to cut down their Christmas tree. The danger is not in picking up the strangers but in the yearnings they bring out.
In between are assorted tales – most with some humor and with O’Henry like shifts in the possibilities – unexpected twists, but not necessarily with O’Henry’s trademark happy endings. Meloy cleanly creates scenes with duality, and it’s possible to see the resolution going either way – but probably not both ways.
After reading Meloy’s The Apothecary, targeted for a young adult audience, I looked for more. This author knows how to tell a story – long and short.
Asked to list her top 10 favorite books, the author of The Apothecary named her inspiration – more than 10. Have you read any of these classics? What books are in your top ten?
- The Collected Stories of John Cheever
- Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
- Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara
- The Art of Burning Bridges(biography) by Geoffrey Wolff
- A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion
- Run River by Joan Didion
- As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
- Edie: An American Girl by Jean Stein
- Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages by Phyllis Rose
- The Border Trilogy, by Cormac McCarthy
- Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
- American Pastoral by Philip Roth