A dead ferryman; a solitary oak in a fallow field; a night that illuminates a troubled past like a bolt of lightning splitting the dark. Furstenfeld is an isolated--one may even say xenophobic town bordering a lake in eastern Germany-the former GDR. However, those ancient, timeless fairy tales swirl about the present more than that recent history. Sasa Stanisic has written a stunning modern fable in that grand tradition. The reader is immediately unsettled as if trying to peer through the mist before dawn. You try to stitch the various images into a coherent whole, never quite certain if the "reality" you perceive actually exists. Stanisic, a genuine heir to the Grimm tradition, gives no quarter, and the reader is all the more grateful for it. He does this all while writing such beautiful prose, sentences that can take your breath away
Andrew Bacevich has written a searing and trenchant history of the United States' failed policies in the Middle East. Beginning with the Carter Administration (oil and hostages), Bacevich meticulously dissects the missteps, mediocrities, and mendacity that molded our "vision(s)" of a Greater Middle East which have led us to our current impotent nightmare. With a dismissive disdain or ignorance of the complexities of the region and its myriad of peoples, our statecraft has been anything but. This is a brilliant book, one that should be read by anyone wishing to grasp the reality in which we find ourselves regarding the Middle East and the larger multipolar world.
Secondhand Time is a remarkable book. In the mode of the best of Studs Terkel's oral histories, Svetlana Alexeivich's record of the demise of the Soviet Union is utterly fascinating. The author herself--born in 1949--knows intimately what it does to the psyche when a IDEA upon which you based your existence is shattered. Despite everyone knowing that its implementation fell well short of the admittedly utopian vision, the hope that was offered by Marxism was real. Alexeivich listens as people recount their personal stories of the end of the world as they knew it. A very rare treat.
With her signature deftness, Alexis Smith has another stunning book to her name. She has crafted a breath-holding thriller; the details emerge slowly from the mist and the characters stumble and trip. Set in the atmospheric San Juan Islands, this is a strange homecoming, a thriller and an unanswered question. The past and the now swirl in the foam and a warning whispers in the wind. Smith proves herself a storyteller in the primal sense of the word and would be welcome at any fireside.
Somehow I missed having read ANY Thomas Hardy, but this took all of two paragraphs to enchant me. It's not just the characters all entwined together, it's Hardy's language that sweeps me off my feet. Give it time, let his words wash over you and be prepared to fall in love...
A haunting tale that crushes the delicate princess myth. Lada does what she can to survive holding onto her identity in the midst of enemy courts!