Friday, April 12, 2013

Josh Berk

Josh Berk is the author of The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin (Knopf 2010), named a best book for teens of 2010 by Kirkus Reviews and It was also awarded a Parent's Choice Silver medal, a starred review from School Library Journal, and a perfect 10 from VOYA. His second comedy/mystery teen novel, Guy Langman: Crime Scene Proscrastinator, was published in 2012 (also by Knopf). His new series for younger readers begins this year with Strike Three, You're Dead. He has previously been a journalist, a poet, a playwright, and a guitarist (mostly in bands known for things other than fine guitar-playing). He is a librarian and lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with his family.

About a month ago I asked Berk about what he was reading. His reply:
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I'm a sucker for baseball novels of course and I have no idea why it took my so long to get around to reading this! It made a big splash in 2011 and I can see why. It's full of fascinating characters -- not just the slick-fielding shortstop Henry Skrimshander, but his mentor/catcher Mike Schwartz and University President Guert Affenlight. I really love Guert for some reason -- he starts off as a minor character but grows as the novel unfolds in unexpected ways. One really random note about the book: the blurb on the back caught my eye. James Patterson said "Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding is one of those rare novels--like Michael Chabon's Mysteries of Pittsburgh ... that seems to appear out of nowhere." It caught my eye because Mysteries of Pittsburgh is a very odd book and one of my favorite novels. Isn't it kind of weird that James Patterson read and loved such a strange novel? Seems weird to me. Anyway, The Art of Fielding rules.

Feed by M.T. Anderson -- I'm teaching a class in Young Adult Literature at Moravian College this semester. The syllabus tries to include a huge variety of YA from various time periods and genres so really I'm reading (or re-reading) a ton of YA right now. One genre I wasn't really looking forward to teaching was science fiction, but the chair of my department suggested Feed and I'm so glad he did! It's one of the funniest books I've read in quite a while. The science fiction elements are fascinating but they don't overwhelm the human stories or the biting satire and hilarious one-liners. Plus it has one of the best opening lines I can think of: "We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck."
Visit Josh Berk's website and blog.

Writers Read: Josh Berk (March 2010).

--Marshal Zeringue