Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Renée Rosen

Renée Rosen's debut novel is Every Crooked Pot, a coming of age story about a lovable misfit born with a disfiguring birthmark covering her eye. It was named one of 2007's Summer’s Hot Reads by the Chicago Tribune and received a starred review from Booklist.

Recently I asked Rosen what she was reading. Her reply:
My reading tastes have been all over the board the past few months, with a mixture of old and new. I’ve also been very intrigued by the use of voice, especially multiple voices, which is what I found so captivating about Andre DuBus III’s House of Sand and Fog. I became completely engrossed with these different voices. Each character took on a life of his or her own and the suspense kept me turning pages, despite the story’s darkness.

Now I’m reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, an impressive debut novel that deftly uses alternating voices to weave a charming tale about three very different women struggling to survive in 1962 Mississippi. The skill with which Stockett delivers these different voices is admirable to say the least.

Life Class by Pat Barker is another novel that blew me away. It was even better upon the second reading. Set against the backdrop of WWI in Europe, Barker explores the lives of a group of art students entangled in their art and their relationships. Her language is sparse and her imagery is breathtaking. Despite one story line that never fully pans out, I adored this novel and could not put it down. Twice!

Going back in time, I recently picked up Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser. Judging by today’s standards, it’s hard to believe that such a novel could have been so controversial. But in the early 1900s, Dreiser was way ahead of his time. Still, having said that, it’s sad but doubtful that a magnificent read like Sister Carrie would get published in today’s climate. The complexities of Carrie Meeber and the demise of one man who is obsessed with her is devastating and haunting. It’s one of those books that will stay with me forever.

And speaking of controversies, I was recently reading The Sorrows Of Young Werther by Goethe. What amazed me most about this little ancient gem was what I discovered in the forward. In a nutshell, it tells the story of unrequited love that ends in suicide and when it was first published, this terse novel was responsible for a slew of suicides. And yet this book was highly celebrated. There were plays and musicals devoted to Young Werther and what struck me was that this book, which was the DaVinci Code of its day in terms of popularity, is now scarcely known at all.
Read an excerpt from Every Crooked Pot and learn more about the novel at Renée Rosen's website.

The Page 99 Test: Every Crooked Pot.

--Marshal Zeringue