Hey there. It's been a minute, I know. My house burned down Labor Day weekend and I've been a bit preoccupied since then. What happened? I lived in a condo on the ground floor of a three-story building. Lightning struck the attic and the building caught fire. It took about about forty-five minutes to rescue my dog, and a total of three hours or so to extinguish the fire.
The Penny and I spent the night at our friends' house and early the next morning I got a call. "Are you aware of what happened last night?" "I don't know," I said, thinking, Something other than my building catching fire? "The fire reignited and caught the electrical system. It took down the whole building. It's a total loss. You need to come meet with the fire marshal."
Thanks to the determination of some friends and the kindness of some firefighters, I was able to retrieve some belongings. No furniture or linens to speak of, no dishes or photo albums. And no books. The loss of my library has been devastating, yes, but so many friends (and my mom!) have been generous in helping me rebuild.
I finished Andrea Kleine's Eden last week. I first read—and loved—her novel Calf in preparation for a Virginia Festival of the Book panel with Andrea a couple of years ago, so as soon as I saw that she had a new novel out I snatched it up. Eden did not disappoint. As a bonus for me, it's set in and around Charlottesville.
I've been preoccupied with the aftermath of the fire and all that goes into setting up a new place from scratch for the past couple of months, and that hasn't left a lot of time for casual reading. But I've been keeping my eye on forthcoming books, in the hopes that I'll have more time in the new year. Below is a list of only some of the books that I'm looking forward to reading in the winter/spring. They are all available for preorder—and preorders are an important way of supporting an author before a book comes out. So if something sounds interesting, go ahead and hit "buy now."
Maurice Ruffin, We Cast a Shadow
Christopher Castellani, Leading Men
Laila Lalami, The Other Americans
Stephanie Land, Maid
Mitchell Jackson, Survival Math
Mary Norris, Greek to Me
Dani Shapiro, Inheritance
Tressie McMillan Cottom, Thick (I've recommended Tressie's Lower Ed in the past)
Wright Thompson, The Cost of These Dreams
Patrick Radden Keefe, Say Nothing (based on this 2015 New Yorker article that I couldn't put down)
Briallen Hopper, Hard to Love
And finally, Natasha Trethewey has a new and selected collection of poems out, Monument. Get it for yourself and gift it to everyone you know.