Monday, March 27, 2017

Anne D. LeClaire

Anne LeClaire's novels include Entering Normal, The Lavender Hour, and Leaving Eden, as well as the critically acclaimed memoir, Listening Below the Noise: The Transformative Power of Silence.

Her new novel is The Halo Effect.

Recently I asked LeClaire about what she was reading. Her reply:
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. I am a huge fan of Saunders’ short stories. His wit, his keen intelligence, his gift for language and story just shine. So when I read he has published a novel, it moved to the top of my must-read list. Set in a graveyard in the span of one day – the day of Willie Lincoln’s burial – and peopled by those buried there, it is a tour de force. And, for me, unexpectedly moving. As in Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology, the dead reveal not only their lives but the yearnings and fears and contradictions of the heart. I found myself caring deeply about what happened to Willie after his death. Daring in every way a book can be, Saunders performs a high-wire act without a net in this one.

The Inheritance by Charles Finch. I grew up reading the British murder mysteries my mother withdrew from our town library and I’ve never stopped loving them. So I was thrilled to discover the works of Charles Finch and his Charles Lenox mystery series. And joy, of joys, he has written nine of them. Set in London in the late 1800s, it is so spot on in atmosphere and detail that I am always a bit shocked to find myself in the 21st Century when I finally look up from a page. Finch is an elegant writer and master craftsman.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. “Dedicated to the departed. And to those who go on loving them.” Before I’d read the first sentence of Chapter One, the book’s dedication grabbed me with the promise of what was to come and nothing that followed disappointed. In this charming novel, George takes the reader on a trip down the Seine on a barge converted into a bookstore and its owner, a character who describes himself as a literary pharmacist and who prescribes books to cure his customers’ conditions as he struggles with his own withdrawal from life. It is a celebration of the senses and all that makes life worth celebrating, Here’s another take-away though Perdu, the bookseller, poses. “Imagine if you had to buy beautiful words to use them.” I loved every page.

The Soul Thief by Charles Baxter. This book pierced my heart. You know that question they pose in author’s Q&As? If you were giving a dinner party and could invite three authors, who would you invite? Charles Baxter has a place at the head of my table.

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie. The book was handed to me by a bookseller with a high recommendation. And I’ve learned to pay attention to the books that the staff so passionately recommends that you have the feeling they would give it to you at no cost if you would just take it and go directly home and start reading. Now I feel like that bookseller. It is irresistible with its weaving of politics, passion, betrayals, violence, wars and one woman’s indomitable determination to better the lives of her people.
Visit Anne D. LeClaire's website.

--Marshal Zeringue