Monday, September 20, 2010

Toby Ball

Toby Ball works at the Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. The Vaults, his first novel, is out this month from St. Martin's Press.

Last week I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I am currently reading The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell, and it is tremendous. I don't generally read very much "literary fiction," but a cousin gave me this book as a present and I'd heard a number of people whose opinions I value recommend Cloud Atlas, also by Mitchell. Briefly, it is the story of a Dutch clerk who travels to Nagasaki around the turn of the 19th century to root out corruption in the Dutch East India Company outpost there. I really love this book. The writing is wonderful without calling attention to itself and the relationships between the characters are subtle and complex in a way that rings absolutely true.

Previous to this, I read Citizen Vince by Jess Walter. Walter's The Zero is one of my all-time favorite books and I'd had Citizen Vince on my "to read" list for quite a while. I don't want to give away too much of the book, but it is more or less a crime novel and is by turns hilarious and harrowing. It takes place in the days before the 1980 elections and follows the travails of a former hood in the witness protection program as he navigates various threats to himself, hangs out with an eccentric array of characters, and tries to figure out who to vote for in the election. Jess Walter seems to be able to write anything. I saw him recently read from his latest book, The Financial Lives of the Poets, which was hysterical and far from the grim satire of The Zero.
Visit Toby Ball's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue