Gina Ochsner’s second novel, The Hidden Letters of Velta B., is a captivating, tragicomic story about family and community relationships in a contemporary Latvian town. A dying mother, Inara, recalls her life and family history to her enormous-eared son, whose heightened sense of hearing allows him to hear both the living and the dead. Continue reading
‘Tis soon to be the season for summer reading. I’m thankful to the great team at Intervarsity’s The Well for asking me to contribute a few book recommendations in their recent issue. Below are my blurbs–but be sure to check out the fine choices by the other contributors, too! You can read them all here.
Summer Reads 2013
by Adam Sol
Jeremiah and his scribe set off on a pilgrimage that becomes (at times) a lyrical quest through American towns — state parks, flea markets, dive bars, and diners. This novel, rendered in poetic form, is a modern reimagining of the biblical story of the doomed prophet that is by turns amusing and serious. You will laugh at the two quirky and passionate characters — but you will also lament with them as they critique consumerist culture. And anyone familiar with the Bible should find special delight in this poetic page-turner’s blend of King James language with contemporary speech.
What the Stones Remember: A Life Rediscovered (published in Canada as There is a Season)
by Patrick Lane
Canadian poet Patrick Lane has seen many seasons of violence and sorrow — most of them lived out under the dark shadow of alcohol and drug addiction. As such, the memoir of his journey to sobriety is not a “light” read — it is, ultimately, a hopeful work about beauty blooming from life’s pain. Lane anchors his recovery story in the natural world, and the passages about his garden have a Psalm-like attention to creation’s splendor. This is a book to be read on a hammock or a lawn chair, with green leaves or blue sky overhead.
The Uncommon Reader
by Alan Bennett
Bennett’s slim but memorable novella about a Queen encountering the joy of books for the first time sparkles with wit and compassion. After a corgi chase leads the Queen to a bookmobile, she becomes a voracious reader — much to the chagrin and panic of those who see this new habit as a threat to royal propriety. This warmhearted satire is a charming testament to literature’s magic — and will probably remind you why it was so wise to pack books into your vacation bag in the first place.
People I Wanted to Be
by Gina Ochsner
Largely set in Eastern Europe, this tragicomic short fiction collection explores grief, love, and faith through the fascinating genre of magical realism. Ghosts sneeze and animals speak. Broken hearts are hurled over fences. Drawings come rebelliously to life. These are but a few of the enchanting happenings that propel Ochsner’s characters into unforgettable quests for redemption. Many of these stories read like modern fables — and all of them thrum with the absurd beauty of the human imagination.