October 6th, 2010
As the days get shorter, so does my attention span. I spent the summer sweating, literally and figuratively, through Cronin’s massive, richly imagined vampire saga The Passage. Now that fall has arrived, it’s time to put epic novels aside and focus on soaking up the last warmth on the bleachers at a junior football game. Still, there are times, like a visit to the MVA, when a magazine just isn’t enough. Such emergencies call for short, attention-grabbing reads such as these:
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
The “goon” is time and it sends all the interlaced characters, from punk rock music exec Bennie to his assistant Sasha, on a search for relevance and reinvention.
Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman
Will you spend the afterlife as an actor in the dreams of the living or is God actually unaware of our existence? Forty entries, some as short as a page, illuminate the afterlife.
Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman
From a woman whose husband and son die at sea to a childhood cancer survivor, the grieving occupants of an old farmhouse on the Cape are haunted across the centuries by a white bird.
Fame: A Novel in Nine Episodes by Daniel Kehlmann
Given the cell phone number of a movie star, a computer tech begins to toy with the man’s life. In eight more “episodes,” connected characters, including the exec responsible for the number switch and the movie star whose life disappears, tell their stories.
Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
Eight chapters detail the survival of an unknown Vermeer painting and those who cherish it through centuries of floods, war and overpowering guilt.
No need to worry — I have Pears’ 600 page Stone’s Fall ready for the first flake of snow. But, while the sun still shines, I’ll continue to pick up and put down any short fiction that comes my way. What are your suggestions for short, great reads?