Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping is anything but a tidy account of domesticity. Rather, one is carried into a world that for me was, ironically, both nostalgic and surreal.
Ron Hansen's Atticus begins as a somewhat standard father-son saga but as the narrative moves from Colorado to Mexico the novel subtly edges deeper and deeper down one canyon of surprise after another.
The much acclaimed autobiographical Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt is also an intergenerational narrative, both powerful and painful. The mood, usually as overcast as an Irish sky in March is rendered bearable by an occasional ironic nod at the whole painful mess he calls life.
Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties William B. Neenan, SJ. (Photo by Gary Gilbert)
In a season in which the passing of celebrities has captured the imagination of millions, The Gift of Peace , a faith-filled account of how Cardinal Joseph Bernardin faced the ultimate mystery of the human condition, should be pursued prayerfully in quiet reflective moments.
And if you seek a literate, insightful account of the recent history of the world's most populous country, I recommend Simon Winchester's River at the Center of the World for a guided journey up the Yangtze River from Shanghai through Nanjing, by the controversial Three Gorges dam project, and on into the Tibetan highlands and the uncertain sources of the world's second longest river.
Two novels by Boston College faculty, Elizabeth Graver's Unravelling and Suzanne Matson's Hunger Moon, were published too late for this year's competition but reliable sources indicate they currently are on the short list for the l998-99 competition.
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