Hot summer reading

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 24, 2011

Deal Safrit of Literary Bookpost offered this list when Our State magazine asked for summer reading selections, and is sharing it with the Salisbury Post.
Iron House by John Hart
Two-time Edgar Award winner John Hart gives us his best thriller yet with “Iron House.” With a tale of two brothers and settings as diverse as New York City and the Asheville area of North Carolina, Hart spins a gripping narrative that will make the reader want to digest this book in one sitting. John Hart just keeps getting better and better. If you haven’t read him yet, start with “Iron House,” but read his first three as well. You won’t be disappointed.
Note: John will be at Literary Bookpost for a festive release party and book signing on Wednesday, July 13, 7-9 p.m. (Expect a review of the book in the Post on July 10).
Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress
Mark Childress give us another hilarious Southern novel that will keep you cackling and completely absorbed. And, as funny as the novel is, you will come to realize that Childress has done what he always does best; lace the book with some very serious themes that, ultimately, between laughs, you can’t help but think about. Georgia Bottoms is another well-constructed, outstanding story from one of our favorite authors.
Note: Mark visited Literary Bookpost in March, and the store currently has signed copies of his book available. (Reviewed in the Post on April 3).
Lost in Shangri-la: The Epic True Story of a Plane Crash into the Stone Age by Mitchell Zuckoff
An adventure story, a war story, and a true tale of survival in the jungles of New Guinea after a plane crash into a remote area of cannibals and Japanese troops, “Lost in Shangri-La” highlights not only the survivors of the crash but the epic and miraculous rescue mission that followed. Told through the words of the survivors, the words of the kin of the natives, and old diaries and military records, Zuckoff crafts a wonderfully readable, historical accounting of an unknown tiny slice of WWII that shows just how significant some of the little rescues really were.
Ashes of the Earth: A Mystery of Post-Apocalyptic America by Eliot Pattison
Pattison creates a believable vision of a post-apocalyptic America 30 years after a nuclear and biological holocaust has devastated the world. Now the age of horse, sail and steam, survivors on the shores of the Great Lakes are re-creating a life as best they can, while more marginal survivors, those partially damaged, have been shunted to the hinterlands. Yet, even so soon after worldwide disaster, there are those who seek control and power, and will stop at nothing, including murder, to achieve their goals. An excellent, well-crafted novel that shows why Pattison is one of our better storytellers today.
A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano
The second novel from Napolitano, “A Good Hard Look” is set in Milledgeville, Ga., and revolves around the real character of Mary Flannery O’Connor. Generally historically accurate, the novel is a certain hit for fans of Southern fiction and a must read for Flannery fans. O’Connor died four years before I arrived at college and she was still a cult figure within the English faculty at my school. After reading “A Good Hard Look,” I was compelled to follow up by reading Brad Gooch’s recent biography of O’Connor. A wonderful read perfect for a Southern summer.
Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell
What a great novel about a strong young woman who, after circumstances leave her with a dead father and a runaway mother, takes to the river she loves and with rifle in hand makes her own way. Margo Crane faces tough choices as she leads a life she can be at peace with. Set in rural Michigan on the Stark River, “Once Upon a River” is an inspiring novel about a person who meets life head-on on her own terms, reminiscent of the protagonist’s hero, Annie Oakley.
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Patchett may have written a novel that equals her amazing “Bel Canto.” “State of Wonder” takes place primarily in the Amazon basin in South America where field medical research is going on under the auspices of the eccentric Dr. Annick Swenson. Marina Singh has been sent by her company to find out just what is going on and why everything is taking so long, and why a fellow researcher has died in the jungle. From this basis, Patchett crafts her story, and it is a story unlike any other you will read this summer, but, one that you must.
Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West
A good, solid, feel-good book about a very small town in Montana where the local school, on the verge of consolidation, fields a basketball team from its 17-member high school student body for another year even though going without a win for the past five years. Almost everyone in the town of Willow Creek is running or hiding from something in their past, but this year’s basketball team just might bring them all together. Originally self-published, West sold 40,000 copies of “Blind Your Ponies” from the trunk of his car before Algonquin picked up this wonderful, highly readable, book.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Just now out in paperback, Franklin’s “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” was one of my picks for best novel of the year in 2010. The book is written like the best mysteries, yet is so much more, because Franklin writes a true Southern literary novel. Both my wife and I find ourselves recommending this novel to almost everyone who walks in the shop. With “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter,” Tom Franklin moves up even higher in the ranks of true Southern literati, a place he well deserves.