The best novels I’ve read in recent years are those by Richard Russo,
earlier ones especially (Empire Falls, Nobody’s Fool, The Risk
Pool). I finally got around to reading The Human Stain by Philip Roth
and am glad I did. Roth’s novel is a model of riveting writing about
the deepest of subjects: race, family, love, betrayal. Another novel I
read recently and liked quite a bit is Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo
Campbell which brought to mind Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell, a
novel I also liked a lot, at least the parts that were written for
readers rather than Iowa Writers’ Workshop classmates. (Thankfully the superb movie based on Winter’s Bone emphasized the former rather than the latter.) Both books featured intriguing young protagonists contending with life as abandoned teenage women in backwoods settings.
Ralph Keyes is the author of Euphemania: Our Love Affair with
Euphemisms and fifteen other books. His bestseller Is There
Life After High School? was made into a Broadway musical.