Stronger characters is the reading theme this month, so at our last Friday Fiction meeting, Vickie and I highlighted some intriguing biography and memoir titles, and absorbing character-driven fiction. In A Separation, a recently separated woman suddenly finds herself in pursuit of her husband on the southern coast of Greece in an introspective and thoroughly compelling narrative. Anything is Possible takes the indomitable title character from My Name is Lucy Barton and weaves her through the town of her tragic childhood. Fredrik Backman populates his novel Beartown with rich cast of characters that show strength amid tragic circumstances in a small wilderness town. Kathleen Rooney’s debut introduces us to Lillian Boxfish, an indefatigable spirit, and one of New York’s original ad-women, who, at 85, on the Eve of 1985, is walking through the equal-parts triumphant and melancholy life that has led her to her present.
On the nonfiction side, Vickie delivered a few real-life indefatigables. Barney tells a compulsively readable story of Grove Press’s Barney Rosset, a key figure in the battle against censorship in publishing that “changed the reading habits of our country.” In Bleaker House, an author takes huge risks to finish a novel by moving to a windswept isle in the Faulklands. And author Yiyun Li pens a moving memoir of perseverance against very personal, psychological issues with the help of some famous literary friends.