Sunday, April 1, 2012

Lyndsay Faye

Lyndsay Faye is the author of critically acclaimed Dust and Shadow, and is featured in Best American Mystery Stories 2010. Faye, a true New Yorker in the sense that she was born elsewhere, lives in Manhattan with her husband.

Her new novel is The Gods of Gotham.

Recently I asked Faye what she was reading.  Her reply:
I’m in the middle of some really wonderful books just now I’ll get to in a second, but first of all I recently finished The School of Night by Louis Bayard. I love, love, love his novels, and his newest is fantastic. It’s a mystery that spans multiple centuries and narratives, focusing on the mysterious brotherhood of Elizabethan scientists and free thinkers of which Sir Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlowe, and Thomas Harriot were a part. There are murders, mysterious and ancient stolen letters of incalculable value, three love stories, and fantastic amalgam of amateur crimesolving, science, poetry, and alchemy. Bayard’s style is evocative and deeply intelligent without ever being showy, and his switching between the seventeenth century and present day quite effortless. This is a book that will equally appeal to lovers of mystery and of historical fiction.

Also on my just-completed list is Sarah Winman’s debut novel When God Was a Rabbit, a family drama with flourishes of magical realism set alternately in New York and the English countryside. The narrative voice, that of a young girl (and later woman) named Ellie, who is searching for herself in the secret nooks and corridors of her warm but complex family life, is absolutely distinct. Rabbits can speak, the dead can rise again, and lives that were once considered hopelessly blighted can be redeemed. And the style itself is phenomenal:
One day she turned to me and said, ‘Watch this,’ and pulled from her forearm a new fifty-cent piece. I saw the flattened edge peeking out of her skin like a staple. She didn’t produce it from the air or from her sleeve—I’d seen all that before—no, she pulled it from her actual skin and left a bloody scar. Two days later the scar was gone; the fifty pence, though, still in her pocket. Now this is the part where nobody ever believes me. The date on the coin was odd. It was nineteen years hence: it was 1995.
As far as currently-reading, I had the pleasure of meeting author Laura Harrington at the Public Library Association conference and signing with her at the Penguin booth, and I’m currently halfway through her novel Alice Bliss. It’s the story of a wonderfully unique (and yet typical) young teen named Alice whose father is called along with the rest of the reserves for a tour in Iraq—a tour, of course, that no one in the Bliss family expected when the father followed the call of civic duty and signed on, and one which tears the family apart in subtle, terrible ways. Too many families are experiencing this in American today, and Harrington paints a deft, moving portrait of the mother and sisters’ anger, guilt, fear, and rage at being left behind, helpless to protect their loved one. It’s equally a hometown saga, a strikingly good young adult novel, and a necessarily intimate look at the consequences of perpetual war.

Lastly, I’m chugging through Alex George’s A Good American will a hearty forward will, not unlike that of the immigrant family whose struggles he brings to life. When Frederick and Jette leave Hanover for the new world, they find themselves quite by luck and accident to be residents of Beatrice, Missouri. What follows thus far is a beautifully detailed illumination of their struggles as immigrants, and George’s neat, elegant prose is thoroughly engaging. I can’t wait to finish it.
Visit Lyndsay Faye's website.

--Marshal Zeringue