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Library News

By: Elizabeth Cate, Collection Development Librarian
For: Red Rock News
Date: May 21, 2010

Summer Reading Preview

As the newest member of Sedona Public Library’s staff, I have many fun and challenging assignments. One of my favorite new responsibilities is reading reviews of upcoming publications and helping select books for the library. In this column, I’d like to tell you about several books that recently caught my eye. They should make great summer reading, whether you are heading out on vacation or staying close to home. 


The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.  Employing a premise similar to that of Like Water for Chocolate, author Aimee Bender (An Invisible Sign of My Own, Willful Creatures) centers her novel on Rose Edelstein, a woman who can taste in the food she eats the emotions of the cook.  As a girl, she detects her mother’s unhappiness and subsequent affair. As an adult, she develops her skill to the point where she can discern the personality of an ingredient’s grower and harvester. Her family members also possess strange abilities. Publishers Weekly calls this story, which should appeal to magical realism aficionados, a “bittersweet dish, brimming with a zesty, beguiling talent.”

My Name Is Mary Sutter. Debut author Robin Oliveira sets this historical novel during the Civil War. The eponymous heroine is a determined young midwife who dreams of becoming a doctor. She travels from upstate New York to Washington, D.C, to tend wounded Union troops, experiencing hardships and heartbreak along the way. If you liked Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain or Geraldine Brooks’s March, you might want to check out this book, described by Library Journal as “well-written and compelling.”

The Good Son. Michael Gruber’s (The Forgery of VenusThe Book of Air and Shadows) new thriller takes readers to Pakistan, where a group of jihadists kidnaps members of an international peace conference. The ensuing events unfold through three different narratives, which culminate in a surprising and rewarding ending. Library Journal calls this novel “an excellent thriller” that is “good from start to finish.”

Ilustrado. This first novel by the Filipino author Miguel Syjuco won the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize. The story begins as a murder mystery, with the death of an expatriate Filipino writer who was critical of his home country’s government. His protégé, not coincidentally named Miguel Syjuco, travels to the Philippines to come to terms with his mentor’s death. What follows is a satire of Philippine politics and upper-class life. Post-postmodernism enthusiasts will appreciate the writing style, which the New York Times praises as “sharp and funny.” 

Matterhorn.  One of two recent well-reviewed novels about the Vietnam War (the other being Tatjana Soli’s The Lotus Eaters), Matterhorn was 30 years in the writing. Author Karl Marlantes, a Vietnam veteran, portrays a company of Marines who endure tremendous privation and take part in brutal fighting to defend a hilltop outpost in Vietnam. The New York Times raves about this novel, describing it as “one of most profound and devastating novels ever to come out of Vietnam—or any war” and a “raw, brilliant account of war that may well serve as a final exorcism for one of the most painful passages in American history.”


The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival. Author John Vaillant (The Golden Spruce), a nature writer, explores the relationship between humans and one of our most feared predators by reconstructing the events surrounding a tiger hunt in a remote area of Siberia. In December 1997, a man-eating tiger was stalking, killing, and eating victims who were seemingly carefully selected.  A team of men and dogs, led by a conservationist game warden, was charged with the task of tracking and dispatching the enraged animal in harsh winter conditions. The Tiger is being adapted into a film, which will be produced by Brad Pitt and Darren Aronofsky.

The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee. Comedian Sarah Silverman elicits strong feelings: people either love or hate her boundary-pushing style of humor. Both the New York Timesand the Los Angeles Times give Silverman’s new memoir a thumbs-up, the latter commending the book as “irreverent, funny, and sometimes winningly serious.”

Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory. This nonfiction work by Ben Macintyre, author of Agent Zigzag, is written like a thriller. It takes place in 1943 and concerns the events leading up to the Allied invasion of Sicily. In order to maintain secrecy about the assault, the British intelligence service devised a ruse involving a floating corpse and fake papers created to fool the Nazis into believing the attack would occur elsewhere. Written in an “elegant, jaunty, and very British high style,” according to the New York Times, this book should be of interest to both fans of historical nonfiction and spy novels.

Heard about an intriguing new book? I encourage you to recommend it for the library to purchase. We have book suggestion forms at the check-out and reference desks.

Have a terrific summer, and happy reading!

Elizabeth Cate, author of this week's article,
is Collection Development Librarian of the Sedona Public Library.

Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News
and is also presented on: Gateway to Sedona and Sedona Biz.