Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Fogarty's reply:
The Yellow BirdsVisit Judy Fogarty's website.
I've just finished The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, a 2012 National Book Award finalist. At only 226 pages, I expected a quick read but didn't get it. The author is a poet. His prose is mesmerizing and begs to be read slowly. Every time I opened The Yellow Birds, I found myself rereading the opening paragraphs. Throughout the novel, the beauty of the language is juxtaposed against a raw, harrowing story of the friendship of two young men fighting in the Iraq war. Powers served in the US army in 2004-05, so the action rings true. Knowing from the opening pages that one of the two, Murphy, will meet a tragic death, I read with curiosity and increasing dread. I was moved and terrified, saddened and disturbed. How else could one feel when reading sentences like these: "While I slept that summer, the war came to me in my dreams and showed me its sole purpose: to go on, only to go on. And I knew the war would have its way."
I purchased a copy of The Goldfinch not long after it won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize and was immediately stricken with a serious case of procrastination. With "so many books, and so little time," I was hesitant to make the necessary investment in such a hefty novel. Friends in my writing group who liked it very much still suggested that sharper editing had been needed, and a few other readers and friends had found it slow in parts. Not me! Thirteen-year-old Theo Decker was as alive for me as any character I've known, and not one I could desert as he suffered through the loss of mother; tried to play the various bad hands he was dealt; struggled with secrets including his theft of a masterwork of art; felt the pain of unrequited love and addiction;and made mistakes that placed his life in danger in the novel's dark, suspenseful climax. The cast of supporting characters came to life just as vividly for me, particularly the colorful Boris and gentle, unassuming Hobie. From New York City to Las Vegas to Amsterdam, the settings were lush in detail, and the underworld of art was exposed and made accessible by a capable, knowledgeable novelist. The conclusion left me thinking deeply and for a long time about the intersection of art, truth, beauty, loss and life.
Right now, I'm trying to decide what to read next. Until recently, I proudly finished every book I started. But suddenly, plot alone can't hold me, no matter how compelling. I have to have prose and style that resonate. This week, sadly, I have started three books and closed every one, permanently. I'd love a recommendation.