Saturday, December 25, 2010

Keith Hollihan

Keith Hollihan worked as a business analyst and ghostwriter before publishing his first novel. Born in Canada, he has traveled widely and lived in Japan and the Czech Republic. He now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Hollihan's new novel is The Four Stages of Cruelty.

Earlier this month I asked him what he was reading.  His reply:
My book club chose Charles Portis’ True Grit this month, and I’ve enjoyed re-reading that. It’s the narrative voice that really takes you along – the unlikely but believable bravery and stoicism of 14-year-old Mattie. It’s a spare, quick story but very evocative, not unlike Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone, and the incredible film by Debra Granik. Portis’ range also amazes me – like Walter Tevis and Thomas Berger, he has written strong books in a number of genres. I’m looking forward to seeing what the Coen Brothers do with True Grit.

Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel was a great discovery for me this year. It was rare to read an expansive literary book that was such a page-turner. For a period book, the narrative voice was almost modern in its tone and perceptiveness, which seemed to bolster the implicit thesis that the main character, Cromwell, was one of the first modern minds of Europe. It’s rare to run across a literary novel that understands the workings of the world – and what’s essentially office politics – so well.

Something Happened by Joseph Heller was another recent read. I don't think Heller succeeded. But I'm also not sure he failed. The book was long and repetitive, and often tedious in its concerns. The methodical evisceration of every important relationship in turn was grim and unsavory, like watching a hyper-articulate drunk take down his family members at Thanksgiving. And yet there were lines, paragraphs, and entire scenes that read like some of the best, most honest, and insightful stuff I've encountered.
Read an excerpt from The Four Stages of Cruelty, and learn more about the book and author at Keith Hollihan's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Four Stages of Cruelty.

--Marshal Zeringue