The Otis Library Asks:
What are you reading?

Book reviews and best sellers lists are all well and good, but sometimes the best books are those you hear about from word of mouth. With that in mind, the Otis Library asks ďWhat are you reading?Ē Add their recommendations to your own reading list! Remember to ask at the Information Desk if you need help locating one of these books.

Our reader this month is:
Faye Ringel, Professor of English,
U.S. Coast Guard Academy,
Norwich native

Iím a lifelong fan of the fantastic in literature: ancient myth, Arthurian romance, Gothic horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Putting together the Jim Lafayette Memorial lecture series has been a great experience, and I hope the presentations will inspire more adults to read contemporary writers of the fantastic.

I always read several books at a time; sometimes I find novels that are so great I have to ration them to make them last. I also love to re-read books, finding new inspirations each time. Currently I am loving (and rationing) two novels that I predict will be modern classics: Michael Chabonís The Yiddish Policemenís Union and Elizabeth Handís Generation Loss.

Chabon creates a believable alternate history in which the United States allowed some Jews to flee the Holocaust by creating a new state in Alaska. In this world history, the State of Israel is annihilated at birth, and those refugees also come to Sitka. The novel is a tribute to the hard-boiled detective story or film noir, combined with the magical realism of Isaac Bashevis Singer.

Elizabeth Handís Generation Loss just won the Shirley Jackson Award, given for the first time this year ďfor outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic,Ē and it well deserves the honor. Her vision of the seacoast and islands of Maine is even more bleak than that of Stephen King, and she is also a brilliant prose stylist.

Rather than recommend specific titles, here are a few authors in the genres of the fantastic who deserve wider recognition by readers who donít ordinarily read fantasy or science fiction:

  • John Crowley
  • Michael Swanwick
  • Sean McMullen
  • Greer Gilman
  • Paul DiFilippo

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