Front Page Booklist 1
Charles Johnson found me doing tai chi in a parking terrace at a writers' conference in 1987. We bonded over Buddhism. I bought his book and fell in love with it too. I was not surprised when he won the National Book Award for The Middle Passage in 1990. Johnson is a meticulous and humane writer. His diverse compassionate stories will surprise you, improve you, and squat in your thoughts. The marvelous stories in Night Hawks are chilling tales you won't forget.
Edward Gibbon wrote The Decline and Fall.... having only read the primary texts of the Roman historians, shunning modern commentaries as grist for his giant mill. To get a real sense of the Roman Empire, our mother-system, a million data points must pass before your eyes. A small handful of writers fulfill this need with Tacitus being one of the most commonly cited, as he had special access through his senatorial position to the Senate's records. The Annals... provides coverage of 14 - 68 AD, a perfect prelude to 69 AD, a truly awful year! This is stellar, exciting writing! Who excluded this from public school curriculum?
Dystopian novels are a dime a dozen at this point, but this one is a gem. Probably my favorite novel of 2018.
Barry Lopez is the most thoughtfully meticulous and graceful writer you will ever read. His sentences ae as elegant as a sandhill crane's precise pace across a spring meadow -- its intense gaze aware of everything.
Encompassing decades of personal experience and global travel, Horizon, could be referred to as a memoir. "... I saw senseless death and became witness to the breaking of every commandment I'd learned as a child, and during which I beheld things so beautiful I couldn't breathe." But Lopez's horizons extend far beyond anyting as self-serving as mere memoir or travelogue.
Exit West, Romeo and Juliet in the Middle East. Their attempt to escape confusing ideologies and live threatening situations make this exciting book worth reading.
The moral and material state of the world is better now than it has ever been. Lest one romanticize the past, Pinker puts on a parade of graphs, each more astonishing than the last, depicting the manifold ways humanity has ameliorated the physical and evolutionary predicament with which it was endowed.
After reading the novella, All Systems Red, its author, Martha Wells, skyrocketed to the top of my favorite authors list. Her prose is succinct yet beautiful. Not a word more is required to paint the image of the self-proclaimed "Murderbot," a rogue SecUnit who would rather watch its soap opera-esque series than be a tool used by planetary corporations. But when its current mission goes awry, Muderbot must discover the truth behind its mission, origin, and place in the universe.
Ellen Meloy was one of the greatest nature writers of the 20th century. Her untimely death in 2004 silenced a voice that was insightful, courageous, and humourous. This reprint of her radio essays taped for the Utah public radio station, KUER FM-90, remind us of her extraordinary talent. I'm far from the only one to think so, the introductory essay by Annie Proulx, a treasure in itself, casts light on a writer who should not be forgotten.