Book Critic Ellen Heltzel: Hidden Gems


Looking for a good book to read?  Book Critic Ellen Heltzel (author of "Between the Covers") joined us today with books we may have overlooked. 

Here are Ellen's Hidden Gems:

"Tony and Susan," by Austin Wright -- fab novel, a real "Hidden Gem," because it was originally published in the '90s and has been republished with the belief that it's a literary masterpiece that got overlooked. Two stories woven together: Tony's is the truly scary tale, Susan's life is filled with domestic horrors, but both plots are equally convincing. I couldn't put this one down.

"A Small Hotel," by Robert Olen Butler -- Butler made it big with "A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain," short stories about Vietnam which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993. But since then he has made ripples, not waves. This quiet but touching novel about the end of a marriage proves he has the right stuff.

"Anatomy of a Disappearance," by Hisham Matar -- This prize-winning author is the artist of understatement, telling the stories of his native Libya and a culture of secrecy in a way that reflects the way things work in his native Libya. This is another story about relationships, told from the perspective of a young boy who is trying to understand his father, a man of influence and political connections, and why he disappeared.

"Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness," by Alexandra Fuller -- This is the second memoir from a woman who can tell the story of growing up as an Anglo in Africa as well as anyone. Her second book focuses on her zany mom, who made life in bush country both fun and frightening.

"Alice Neel: The Art of Not Sitting Pretty," by Phoebe Hoban -- This is the story of another real-life woman, but this a famous and complicated one who broke ranks with her genteel past to establish herself as a forward-thinking, convention-busting prequel to the feminist wave of the '60s. Her paintings are tough, and so was her life. But Hoban gives the sense that she suffered her tragedies -- including the loss of a child and a nervous breakdown -- and kept on working.

For more information about Ellen Heltzel, check out her Book Babes website.


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