Saturday, March 4, 2023

James Klise

James Klise’s new YA novel, I’ll Take Everything You Have, is a queer coming-of-age crime story set in 1934 Chicago. In a starred review, Kirkus promises "passionate, cinematic scenes" and "a thrillingly queer adventure." Publishers Weekly calls the book "an arresting narrative... and a mesmerizing snapshot of 1930s Chicago."

Klise's previous novels for teens include the Edgar Award-winning The Art of Secrets and the ALA Stonewall Honor-winning Love Drugged. He lives with his husband in Chicago, where for the past two decades, he has overseen a very busy high school library.

Recently I asked Klise about what he was reading. His reply:
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

At the high school where I work, I lead a student book club. We always read YA books, but for the first time in 20 years, I bent to popular demand and ordered copies of Madeline Miller’s bestseller The Song of Achilles. A colleague emailed one night: “Jim, have you started reading that book? Um… it’s SPICY.” I panicked, but then I read it. The book is fantastic. Youthful heroes, powerful villains, friendship that turns to love, and the suspense of knowing (for most readers) what destiny has in store. Every teen read it cover to cover. Thumbs up! As far as the “spicy” element, I suspect my colleague is not aware of what can be found in YA fiction these days.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Growing up in Peoria, Illinois, I never thought of myself as anything other than Midwestern American. Our roots are in Ireland, but my childhood home didn’t “read” Irish. e.g. We didn’t display the Irish Blessing on any wall, and March 17 came and went each year without much fanfare. This past December, one of my sisters recommended Claire Keegan’s slim novels to me. I read Small Things Like These and Foster during the same week. Page after page, I felt: Wow, yes, that is very close to the circuitry of my own brain. When I read Keegan’s sentences, I hear the voices of my mother’s parents and miss them even more.

Coral Glynn by Peter Cameron

I’ve reached for Peter Cameron’s Coral Glynn many times and never tire of re-visiting it. Set in a crumbling old mansion in the remote rainy woods of England in the years following WW 2, the story is about a shy young nurse who becomes employed to a wealthy woman who is dying. In fact, the old woman dies quickly, leaving the inexperienced nurse alone in this isolated house with only the hostile housekeeper and the woman’s grown son, a war veteran, for company. It’s impossible to predict where this story will take you. The plot is surprising. Scenes of dialogue twist and turn with thrilling social awkwardness. Cameron revels in unexpected moments that continue to delight me, time after time.
Visit James Klise's website and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Art of Secrets.

The Page 69 Test: I'll Take Everything You Have.

--Marshal Zeringue