First there's Amy Welborn's new Wish You Were Here, a kind of memoir/travelogue. It's a surprisingly revealing book for someone self-described as a private person (or perhaps not, given today's tell-all's), but one senses that she wanted to write this book without regrets, without holding back.
There is something haunting about the foreshadowing, of how her husband Michael emphasized the brevity of life, of how one of their parish priests talked about death to the point of parody, of how they used to avidly watch "Six Feet Under".
The line from the Byzantine liturgy comes to mind: "by death He trampled Death!" Often I wish that He'd have conquered death by another way!
There are heart-rending moments, such as when one of her sons forthrightly says, "But I don't want Dad to be invisible!" Those are balanced out by comedic episodes such as finding themselves thousands of miles from home and visiting a park not much different than one in their own hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. The travelogue helps lighten the tone of bereavement and loss. Recomended!
Finished "A Sense of Ending" by Julian Barnes. Meh, as the blogger lingo goes. Really a novella, it started strong but the last two-thirds were less lyrical and led to an unsatisfactory conclusion.
Twenty pages left in the Wolcott memoir "Lucking Out". He quotes Pauline Kael at one point (saying something I think Steven Riddle might agree with): "I don't trust critics who say they care only for the highest and best; it's an inhuman position, and I don't believe them." Wolcott critiiques the modern novelist speaking of "the aversion of fiction writers to risk bunions and discourtesy at their tender expense to do Dickensian-Balzacian reporting of institutions, status-spheres, and the hidden gear-works of class (an argument strung like Christmas tree lights by Tom Wolfe in his introduction to the anthology The New Journalism); the inadequacy of fiction to keep up with the acceleration and jump-cut transitions of our minds...".
And for you e-reader readers out there, Bill Luse's novel "The Last Good Woman" is now available on Kindle! Bill blogs at Apologia for any relative newcomers.