I wanted to post this on April 1, with some witty joke about April Fool’s Day. Alas, it was not to be. But that doesn’t mean that these books are not worth reading. Enjoy!
This slyly funny novel follows the unexpected operation of grace in a deadbeat town in upstate New York—and in the life of one of its unluckiest citizens, Sully, who has been doing the wrong thing triumphantly for fifty years. Divorced and carrying on halfheartedly with another man’s wife, saddled with a bum knee and friends who make enemies redundant, Sully now has one new problem to cope with: a long-estranged son who is in danger of following in his father’s footsteps.
It is a time of treachery, passion, and uncertainty: Wales in 1198. King Maelgwyn ap Cadwallonis pressured into a marriage of convenience, but his wife soon wins her husband’s grudging respect while battling wits with his most trusted friend. Soon enough, the king finds himself threatened not only by enemies but also by loved ones. (Guess who?!)
Singer’s first collection of stories was published in 1957. The title story follows the exploits of Gimpel, an ingenuous baker who is universally deceived but who declines to retaliate against his tormentors. All protagonists of these inhabit the distinctive pre-World War II ghettos of Poland and the larger world.
In this book, we meet the gentle, self-sacrificing Gaston Bonaparte, a descendent of Napoleon. His trusting love of both people and animals makes all who meet him change their lives for the better. (Isn’t that a nice idea?) Gaston’s adventures in modern Japan are presented as a kind of fable, yet with complete realism and keen social satire.
An informer’s body is found on the estate of a wealthy Irish family shortly after WWI, and an appalling cycle of revenge is set in motion. Led by a zealous sergeant, the Black and Tans set fire to the family home, and only young Willie and his mother escape alive. Fatherless, Willie grows into manhood while his alcoholic mother’s bitter resentment festers. And though he finds love, Willie is unable to leave the terrible injuries of the past behind.
Stone recounts his quest to join the ranks of master magicians, to prove his worth by deceiving others. But his journey is more than a tale of tricks, gigs, and geeks. By investigating some of the lesser-known corners of psychology, neuroscience, physics, history, and even crime, Stone arrives at a number of startling revelations about how the mind works, and why, sometimes, it doesn’t.