Monday, March 2, 2009

Good Books

A quick rollup of the past few months' better reads ...

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski
A fantastic Shakespearean / Coming of Age American saga about a family and their quest to develop a truly unique breed of dogs. Nestled among the Wisconsin North Woods on the edge of the Chequamegon National Forest, you instantly feel at home in the life of the mute, teenaged boy named Edgar Sawtelle. I literally could not put this book down, and 5 days later felt emotionally drained and enriched at the same time.

To quote Stephen King: "I closed the book with that regret readers feel only after experiencing the best stories: It's over, you think, and I won't read another one this good for a long, long time."

Accounting and Finance for Lawyers: Just kidding. Avoid this book like the plague - really.

Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner
I got turned on to Stegner back in 1999 when I spent a summer in Wyoming working on a cattle ranch. For those who seek to preserve the unique character of the American West, Stegner is their literary champion.

This work is a complex, deep, and tortuous map of the path of a family growing up on the cusp of a new American dream, yet never quite cashing in. From the mines of Colorado to the Idaho rivers to old Mexico, the countryside that forms the backgorund of this saga is vivid and harsh and real - and eminiently Western.

Killing Rommel, by Steven Pressfield
I admit that I'm a sucker for WWII side-stories that are wrapped up like thrillers, but once again the author of my one my all-time favorite novels has totally exceeded my expectations. This book follows the exploits of the once-famed Long Range Desert Group in North Africa '42, now a forgotten unit on a forgetten front of our most memorialized war. But instead of just a history, Pressfield uncovers the spirit of a group of men facing unfathomable odds, and drinking of their own ingenuity and wits when their water runs out. 
Quite a treat.

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