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Cover Image of Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens by Christopher Hitchens published by Twelve
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Cover Image of Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami published by Vintage
 
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Mid-Summer Reading Cattle-prod

abstract:OK, you've figured out I'm at the farm and so all of my metaphors today are going to reflect that. I am curious to know what escapes you have planned for the summer? Do you make a ritual foray up to the cottage on the lake? Do you take a driving tour of the local wineries in your region? Do you hop the big pond and immerse in the cultural offerings of Europe? Or, like me, do you turn off the Internet, your cell phone and all forms of communication and just hang out? My days at the farm are jam-packed. It's up with the birds at 4:30 am (yee gad) and after morning coffee, 3 hours of weeding the farmhouse garden patch, peeling a few logs for the bedsteads we're building for guests, I'm painting the new purple martin birdhouse to convince the swallows to relocate out from under the eves, take a drive in the tractor over the front 80... and of course, when the day heats up and my outside hammock under the cottonwood calls, I relax with a good book and perhaps a tall G&T. Isn't this what the lazy days of summer are all about? It's our chance to put away obligatory professional reading matter and the newspapers that draw us into world events, and instead allow ourselves to be transported to a fictional world, followed of course with the nonfiction title we've been saving for unfettered nights. Here's what's stacked in the shade next to my hammock...

article:

July 10, 2009
A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif (Random House/Vintage)
Mohammed won The Best First Book Award for Europe and South East Asia with this novel. He is reputed to be "the Tolstoy of Pakistan". Mangoes is not what I expected after hearing him speak to a writers conference in London where he divulged his background as a multi-generational agrarian landowner in touch with the classes of his homeland. I expected a book resembling Anna Karinina in its poetic-tragic scope as a study of the classes. It is not. His writing is entirely ironic and political. His characters are complicated and subtly drawn. His gift is his sarcastic humor. John Le Carre says, "Witty, elegant and deliciously anarchic." Here's the story: A young pilot, Ali Shagri is suspected in the 1988 plane crash of Pakistan's dictator, General Zia ul-Haq and the entire crew. His relationship to his bunkmate, Cadet Obaid is complex, and who has coincidentally disappeared AWOL along with a jet. The chain of command surrounding President Zia is paranoid and our protagonist is the son of a prominent Colonel Quli Shigri, who apparently took his own life. The reader must uncover the mystery of the disappearance of Obaid, endure the torture and questioning of Ali, and witness the machinations of the Pakistani military who are struggling to maintain their country's status with America - their allies against the Soviets in the liberation of Afghanistan. It's Charlie Wilson's War told by an insider.

Map of the Invisible World by Tash Aw
(McClelland & Stewart)
This Malaysian-raised author debuted with The Harmony Silk Factory in 2005. The author writes like their admired mentor, Graham Greene with lots of vivid imagery and finely drawn characters. Here the story of two orphaned brothers whose lives have taken divergent paths parallel Indonesia's struggle to cast off its Colonial past. Transport yourself to Jakarta in the 60s.








February by Lisa Moore (House of Anansi)
Moore won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for her first novel, Alligator. Her next novel has all the rich psychological insights as before and features the widow of an oilrig crewman who lost his life when his rig sank off the coast of Newfoundland in 1982.





and last, but not least...

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf)
From the author of six novels, including, Never Let Me Go and The Remains of the Day comes a book of short stories - 5 to be exact. Each is brilliantly composed with startling and fresh characters. The theme throughout is music, intimacy, and the passing of time. Ishiguro has the capacity to mine personal interactions that you've somehow never seen written before. Born in Nagasaki, Japan Kazuo has lived most of his life in Britain. His novels have won him many honors, including the Booker, the Whitbread Book Award, the OBE for services of literature, the Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France. Pick up a copy of Nocturnes for short summer bedtime reading.

Have a wonderful summer!

 

 

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