The Prodigal Son may have left home because home was permeated with a fainthearted love-a prudent and stunted love-that made him want to get away. So suggests Jerome Strozzi, the main character of this novel by the late Jean Sulivan. "After we pass through the valley where souls are formed, there will no longer be families, but only persons-that is to say, friends.
In this novel, perhaps his masterpiece, J. M. Coetzee emerges as the most old-fashioned kind of literary genius: a person whose strong imagination is guided by firm and deeply held beliefs. Coetzee's powerful style, admired so much for its own sake, seems to grow from these beliefs.
Franzen has turned his considerable novelistic talents to a kind of inquisitorial examination of the American ideal of freedom. He shows how freedom is negatively construed—focused on what we are free from and not on what freedom might be for, what worthy ends it might be used to pursue.
All the lonely people, where do they all come from? That question from “Eleanor Rigby” might serve as the epigraph for the works of Douglas Coupland. Coupland is the Canadian writer who burst on the scene in 1991 with Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, thereby coining the term for his generation.
Mary Doria Russell’s novels include intricately drawn characters who explore life’s deepest and most troubling questions. She is perhaps best known for her first novel, The Sparrow (1996), and its sequel, Children of God (1998), about human contact with aliens on a space mission organized by Jesuits.
Why do we expect more than one terrific book from a writer? Isn’t one superb book enough? Razzing Frank McCourt for making cheerful, thin books that aren’t Angela’s Ashes and ragging Ken Kesey for all the later muck that wasn’t One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest—isn’t that unfair?
"Man is wolf to man," said Roman playwright Plautus, and novelist C. J. Sansom seems to agree. The main character in his historical novels, detective Matthew Shardlake, repeats the ancient adage three times in Dark Fire, the second novel in the Shardlake series.Through the first-person narratives of a 16th-century lawyer, Sansom gives fictional life to a gloomy but not hopeless view of human nature.In Dissolution, the first book, King Henry VIII closes a Benedictine monastery on England's Cornish coast as part of a massive seizure of church lands and properties. In Dark Fire, Henry fears that Catholic forces may revolt with a magical concoction, a jellied petroleum akin to napalm. In the newest book, Sovereign, the king makes a grand tour of his kingdom as a display of royal might and a warning to Catholic forces in the north.
I am mostly a utilitarian reader. For 40 years I have been writing and preaching sermons weekly, and I have come to rely on the almost exact relationship between the quality and quantity of my reading and my ability to create a sermon that has some life and energy to it.