You probably know of Richard Ford through his three main books, The Sportswriter, Independence Day (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize) and The Lay of the Land. He is one of America’s best authors, telling stories so well. His new book is Canada, and what a story! It’s 1956 and Dell’s parents are having financial problems so they decide to rob the bank. But they dont do it very well, and are arrested. Dell flees town before the authorities arrive, and this is Dell’s story as he drives across America towards the haven of Canada. One of this year’s treasures.
Two amazing books in two weeks! Now that’s unusual. This week I read 2011 National Book Award winner – Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward. National Book Award winners are reliably great books, and last year’s winner is no exception. It’s Ward’s second book and has been described at heartbreaking, life-affirming,sorrowful, uplifting. It’s all these things and and more, with superb writing. Bois Sauvage is a Mississippi bayou town. Esch is poor, fifteen, pregnant, dealing with a boy who no longer looks at her. Her mother has died, her father is a drunk, her brothers are a strong band who will fight and care for her. But Hurricane Katrina is bearing down on Mississippi and for the twelve days leading up to Katrina we live with this family. Ward is here for Sydney Writers Festival and with luck I’ll get to hear her.
Occasionally I read such a fabulous book I cant wait to tell you about it, even though it wont be published until later in the year. The last time I did this was with Favel Parrett’s Past the Shallows, and it’s truly wonderful to see this book being shortlisted for the Miles Franklin award. The Dog Stars by Peter Heller is another amazing book. It’s set in a dystopian future when the earth’s population has been decimated by a virus and the trout that Hig likes to fish has gone too. The climate is changing too. Hig is living with his beloved dog Jasper, his aggressive neighbour Bagley (between the two of them they are able to fight off the ferals who want their food, their guns) and his Cessna which he uses to search for food. This is a really exciting book. Due August 28.