Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Michael Northrop

Michael Northrop is the author of two YA novels: Gentlemen (2009), one of the American Library Association/YALSA’s “Best Books for Young Adults,” and Trapped (2011), an ALA/YALSA Readers’ Choice List selection, an Indie Next List pick, and a Barnes & Noble “Must-Read for Teens.” His first middle grade novel, Plunked, is new in bookstores and libraries this month.

Recently I asked him what he was reading.  His reply:
I just finished up a red-hot, 10-book roll. I'm a slow reader, so it was a slow roll, but still: I read ten books in a row that were all at least excellent. A few were downright amazing, and at least one was nearly perfect. Here's a quick look at each:

We the Animals by Justin Torres: I read this for book club and was blown away. It’s a fierce, poetic debut that punches way above its 125-page weight class.

Townie by Andre Dubus III: Speaking of punching, there’s quite a bit of it in this one. Fighting, writing, family, and place are all major subjects, and they add up to one of the best memoirs I've ever read.

Oogy by Larry Levin: This is earnest, unusually guileless nonfiction about an adorably ugly rescue dog, which is to say, emotional crack.

The Fallback Plan by Leigh Stein: Is this one sad and funny or funny and sad? You decide! In either case, it’s pandastic (that should be read to rhyme with fantastic but with the understanding that panda is the root word) and hits the college-grad-moves-back-home-and-eats-cereal trend on the head like literary Whack-a-Mole.

Lucking Out by James Wolcott: I’m fascinated by NYC in the 1970s—the legendary energy and edge and the big movements just getting started—and Wolcott was here for it all, and paying attention (and sober).

Stoner by John Williams: Another absolute gem from NYRB Classics (see also The Dud Avocado, et al). This somber, rock solid, utterly gripping account of a stoic college professor is as close to a perfect novel as I've read in a very long time.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: How much more classic could this book be? None, none more classic.

Jaws by Peter Benchley: You have to love a book where “fin” comes at the beginning, and this one differs from the film in surprising ways.

The Book of Deadly Animals by Gordon Grice: You probably think the title is a metaphor and the book is actually about suburban ennui or something, but no, it’s a wonderfully written guide to deadly animals.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: Book club again. This darn book: I knew what it was trying to do—and being by John Green, how it was trying to do it—and it still got me. It’s about “cancer kids,” so more emotional crack, basically. (That’s the second one on this list—do I have a problem?)

And then ... a bad book happened. I won’t mention the book that broke the streak, though I will silently curse its name.
Visit Michael Northrop's website.

Writers Read: Michael Northrop (March 2011).

--Marshal Zeringue