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Don's Picks

Book Cover for The Valley of Fear Doyle, Arthur Conan
The Valley of Fear

Fiction
This short Sherlock Holmes novel is one of the best stories in the whole canon and, without a doubt, the single finest example of the relationship between Holmes and Watson. The story takes place in the coal mining district of Pennsylvania and is divided into two parts, the first being the mystery and its solution and the second the back story. A thrilling variation of a locked room murder, The Valley of Fear concerns a secret society’s terroristic hold over an entire community and how that hold was finally shattered. A jim-dandy, crackerjack of a tale.
Recommended by Don, August 2007
Book Cover for Cold Mountain Han-shan
Cold Mountain

Poetry
A classic translation of arguably one of the most important books of Chinese poetry, Cold Mountain put the Zen into poetry for a whole generation of modern Beats. A mountain, a hermit & nature: can pure, lyric philosophy be far behind? Translated by Burton Watson.
Recommended by Don, August 2007
Book Cover for The Raw Shark Texts Hall, Steven
The Raw Shark Texts

Fiction
Eric Sanderson is having a very bad day. He wakes up not knowing who he is, discovers he has a rare form of dissociative amnesia (this is the 11th occurrence), receives daily letters from "Eric Sanderson the First," and is being hunted by a lethal, voracious conceptual shark. And that's just for starters. Gaiman meets Nabokov (by way of L. Frank Baum) in a tour de force of metafiction with that rarest of rare commodities: a heart.
Recommended by Don, July 2007
Book Cover for Call Me By Your Name Aciman, Andre
Call Me By Your Name

Fiction
This tender, lyrical love story follows the emotional ripening of 17 year old Elio, who falls gloriously hard for older visiting scholar Oliver, a research assistant for Elio’s father. Set during an idyllic Italian summer, Aciman’s story chronicles the subtle nuances of desire, fear and illogic known to all as first love. Early comparisons to a modern Proust not withstanding (a modicum of the insight balances out a fraction of the difficulty), Call Me By Your Name captures all the beautiful passion and fine, demonstrative detail of young love at its obsessive best.
Recommended by Don, June 2007
Book Cover for Averno Gluck, Louise
Averno

Poetry
Former Poet Laureate Louise Glück, in her tenth collection, delves once more into the rich subject of mythology, both personal and classical, presenting a sequence of poems revolving around themes loosely connected to Persephone and our fascination with the idea of an Underworld. Terse, literate, and powerful, like much of her previous work, this volume seems an extended elegy for life itself.
Recommended by Don, June 2007
Book Cover for Flowers of Evil Baudelaire, Charles
Flowers of Evil

Poetry
If you have always wanted to know, or thought you already knew, what the Baudelaire fuss is all about, this is the volume for you. This brand new translation by Keith Waldrop eschews the pretense (no forced rhymes or stilted meter here) for the pure power of direct speech and modernity. A word of caution, however; given the right circumstances, this is life-altering verse. Translated by Keith Waldrop, Wesleyan University Press, 2006
Recommended by Don, May 2007
Book Cover for The Road McCarthy, Cormac
The Road

Fiction
There are few books that come along that are simply profound in their execution; Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is one of those books. The style and diction used to communicate the apocalyptic scenario are so basic that certain words at once jump out at the reader and resonate long after the page is read. The Road, like The Great Gatsby before it, is a prose poem, a lyric masterpiece whose horrific beauty is underscored by a stark, relentless vision.
Recommended by Don, April 2007
Book Cover for Moral Disorder Atwood, Margaret
Moral Disorder: Stories

Short Stories
Atwood’s latest, a collection of stories linked via shared characters, is a master class in short fiction writing by an artist at the height of her powers. And, if you like this volume, her earlier Wilderness Tips, a collection of stories linked via theme, is just the ticket.
Recommended by Don, March 2007

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