Ellen Heltzel: Latest & Greatest Fiction

With Summer vacation season around the corner, it's time to start thinking about what books to bring along.  Local book critic and author, Ellen Heltzel, joined us today with her picks for the latest and greatest fiction!

"In One Person," by John Irving -- Irving has long been Mr. Push the Envelope in his novels, taking on contemporary issues from abortion to the Vietnam War with such books as "The World According to Garp" and "The Cider House Rules." His latest is told first-person by a bisexual man; the book covers his life and, in the process, his sexual history. The sympathetic portrayal of a man who is attracted to both sexes will probably work with his legions of fans, but for this reader -- TMI, John!

"Home," by Toni Morrison -- The eminence grise of American literature (a Nobel Prize winner, after all!) is back with a novel about Frank Money, a black man who returns from the Korean War with a terrible case of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome before that condition had a name. But, as always with Morrison, racism plays a big part in the troubled psyche, and the story isn't just about Frank. It's about the disadvantaged family and world from which he came. This short, affecting story is much more readable than some of Morrison's later uncontrolled experiments, such as "Paradise" and "Love."

"The Right-Hand Shore," by Christopher Tilghman -- Here's another look at America and its tortured history regarding race. But this version is seen through the eyes of white landed gentry in Maryland, in particular a dying spinster who through her memory revisits all that came before her at the place her family simply called the Retreat, on the Chesapeake shore. Tilghman is not as well-known as he should be -- a terrific writer who can uncover truths about the past without sacrificing its sepia-tinted allure. of the past.

"The Family Corleone," by Ed Falco -- Written in the spirit of Mario Puzo, this is a must for fans of "The Godfather." It's a "prequel," picking up the story during the Depression as Vito is setting up shop, so to speak. Sonny, the impulsive oldest son, is a major figure in this story, but all the regulars weigh in -- the sensible adopted son, Tom, and the younger boys, weakling Fredo and heir-unapparent Michael Corleone.  Hurray! All the old gang is back.

"Truth Like the Sun," by Jim Lynch -- This novel spans the era between the 1963 Seattle World's Fair and 9/11 with the skill of a reporter who knows what it's like to go after big game. An enterprising journalist looks into the past of a mayoral candidate who's so well known that people call him "Mr. Seattle." Well, it turns out that there have been a few too many payoffs and paybacks that went with his role in building the Space Needle and turning the Emerald City into a high-tech capital -- a fantasy but the perfect one for Lynch, who used to be a Seattle Times. Even Elvis gets into the act -- he was at the World's Fair, you know!


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