Saturday, June 8, 2013

in the midst of all their shortcoming

When I hear myself praising a book these days, the things I seem to be really appreciating is a fearlessness when it comes to compassion and sincerity, as well as a willingness to examine questions of faith (and by that I neither mean, not exclude, questions of religion.) In other words, I have reached an age where I am no longer at all impressed with the snide, the cold, the condescending, unless it is paired or mitigated by the opposite, the hopeful in the face of all odds, the reaching after the ineffable, the love. My favorite book this year so far is George Saunder’s The Tenth of December, because for all its razor sharp social commentary, for all the ways he shows us to ourselves with a devastatingly relentless and honest eye, he brings this wave of compassion and love behind that critique. No characters seem more in need of love than the characters in The Tenth of December, and he loves them unconditionally, in the midst of all their shortcoming, all their flaws. Pam Houston in Tracking Wonder

Friday, June 7, 2013


One, really? I could do five with some level of comfort, but one is nearly impossible. But if I have to do one I guess it has to be Toni Morrison’s Jazz. It both took off the top of my head and became the axe for the frozen sea within me. It completely exploded whatever notion I had about the limits of what was possible in a novel and made me understand that radical intelligence and radical empathy were not—as my grad school professors had insisted—mutually exclusive. Pam Houston in Tracking Wonder
Photo by Pam Houston