Friday, December 05, 2008

"New" author discoveries.

As J. Kingston Pierce tagged me over on The Rap Sheet for my author discoveries in 2008, I list some of them below, albeit with the caveat that this year, I made a concerted effort to read books I'd heard about as must-reads without regard to their original release date.
  • Nicholas Blake, Thou Shell of Death. A sad but splendid mystery that deals with the aftermath of World War I, written by the pseudonymous British poet laureate Cecil Day Lewis.
  • James Gould Cozzens, The Just and the Unjust. A wise and penetrating novel by a Pulitzer Prize winner on how a murder trial affects the residents of a small Pennsylvania town, in both political and personal terms.
  • Helen Eustis,The Horizontal Man. Although its once ground-breaking twist ending may not surprise modern readers, this roman à clef about Smith College by a friend of Carson McCullers is still a terrific read.
  • Frances [Newbold] Noyes Hart, The Bellamy Trial. Based on the Hall-Mills murder case that also inspired Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, this accomplished novel by a relative of Edith Wharton portrays the circus atmosphere of a sensational trial through the eyes of witnesses and journalists, including the myriad ways in which circumstances may not be what they seem.
And an entry in nonfiction:
  • Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. A wrenching look by the president of Harvard at how the survivors on both sides of the Civil War dealt with the impact of more than a half-million casualties—particularly appropriate in this CSI age as to the efforts to identify and repatriate remains. (Go here for a Faust presentation at the National Archives.)

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