Recommended Books 2002

 

Fiction

Buckley, Christopher.  No Way to Treat a First Lady.  Random, 2002.
The First Lady is accused of murder and an old flame comes to her defense in this scathing satire that targets the Washington political scene and  the legal profession.

Carter, Stephen.  The Emperor of Ocean Park.  Knopf, 2002.
A controversial African-American judge dies suddenly leaving his son,  a professor of law at a renowned university, an  enigmatic message.  A novel of intrigue, murder and family secrets.  This is the first  work of fiction by the eminent Yale Professor of Law.

Crafts, Hannah.  Edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  The Bondwoman's Narrative. Warner, 2002.
Written in the 1860s, this autographical novel may be the first novel by a black woman slave.  In an introductory essay, Gates details how he discovered this extraordinary manuscript.

Dunmore, Helen.  Ice Cream.  Grove Press, 2002.
A collection of stories that explore the complexities of friendship and missed opportunities.  Dunmore writes fluidly with subtlety and humor.

Frayn, Michael.  Spies.  Metropolitan Books, 2002.
From the vantage point of old age, a man recalls his childhood escapades during World War II when a seemingly harmless adventure of spying with his friend turns out far differently than they ever imagined. An interesting and well-paced story of growing up and confronting the realities of the adult world.

Gautreau, Norman C.  Sea Room.  McAdams/Csge, 2002.
The impact of World War II on a family living on the coast of Maine is beautifully handled in this outstanding first novel.  Ten-year-old Jordi and his father Gils plans for a new sailboat are suspended when Gil goes to war.  Jordi and his family face new challenges with Gils absence. This is a story  that will also appeal to young adults.

Haslett, Adam.  You Are Not a Stranger Here.  Doubleday, 2002.
Most of the stories in this sterling collection deal with depression and mental illness.  These stories of characters struggling with depression and mental illness are convincing and well worth reading.

Krass, Nicole.  Man Walks Into a Room.  Doubleday, 2002.
The life of an English professor is radically changed when he suffers a loss of memory in this provocative story of memory and identity.

Littell, Robert.  The Company.  Overlook Press, 2002.
A convincing and informative multigenerational novel of the CIA by the veteran writer of espionage fiction.

McEwan, Ian.  Atonement.  Doubleday, 2002.
On a summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old precocious Briony concocts a scenario that lands the love of her sisters life in jail for a crime he did not commit.  This brilliant novel is an intimate account of family betrayal, guilt, love, and war that begins in a leisurely manner and builds momentum as the story unfolds.

McGahern, John.  By the Lake.  Random, 2002.
The flavor of rural Ireland is perfectly captured in this charming story of the colorful and engaging characters who are so expertly depicted.

Makine, Andrei.  Music of a Life.  Arcade Publishers, 2002.
In 1940 young Alexei Berg is about to make his concert debut when his parents are arrested and his harrowing life experiences begin. This is a tightly compressed gem of a novel short in length but big in ideas and enhanced by Makines beautiful prose.

Martel, Yann.  The Life of Pi.  Harcourt, 2002.
After being shipwrecked, a zookeepers teenage son from India shares his lifeboat with a Bengal tiger for over two-hundred days.  A wonderful adventure story that is surprising and suspenseful.  A winner of the Booker Prize for 2002.

Mason, David.  The Piano Tuner.  Knopf, 2002.
An interesting and ambitious first novel about an introspective piano tuner who is sent to repair a piano at a Burmese colonial outpost and is profoundly changed.  Masons beautiful prose captures the exotic world of colonial Burma and its people.

Montemarano, Nicholas.  A Fine Place.  Context Books, 2002.
This fine fist novel is based on the killing of a black teenager in  a primarily Italian-American neighborhood in Brooklyn. The author focuses  on one multigenerational family to convey their loss, pain and guilt, rooted in the brutal killing.  Montemaranos characters are totally convincing.

O'Brien, Tim.  July, July.  Houghton Mifflin, 2002.
A bittersweet novel that unfolds over a long college reunion weekend. OBrien skillfully interweaves the stories of his characters with dramatic flair.

Packer, Ann.  The Dive From Clausen's Pier.  Knopf, 2002.
Her fiances tragic accident results in a moral dilemma for Carrie, the narrator of this provocative and gracefully written first novel about duty and responsibility.

Russo, Richard.  The Whore's Child and Other Stories.  Knopf, 2002.
This is the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist's first short fiction collection. In the title story an elderly Belgian nun joins a college writing class and sets out to write dramatic memoir.  Other stories deal with problematic relationships.

Todd, Charles.  A Fearsome Doubt.  Bantam Books, 2002.
The latest in the brilliant historical mystery series featuring the Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge and the ghostly voice of a Scottish soldier he had executed for cowardice during World War I.

Trevor, William.  The Story of Lucy Gault.  Viking, 2002.
A young girl is separated from her family in this superb novel set during a period of martial law in 1920s Ireland.  When her parents decide to move to England, Lucy runs away.  Her decision has tragic and far reaching consequences in this tale of love, regret and the hope of forgiveness and reunion.

 

Nonfiction

Caro, Robert.  The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate.  Knopf, 2002.
The superb account of Johnson's skill as a legislative tactician. A 2002 National Book Award winner.  This is the third volume in Caros The Years of Lyndon Johnson.  Winner of the National Book Award for nonfiction.

Ellsberg, Daniel.  Secrets.  Viking, 2002.
A detailed memoir of the Vietnam era by the man who risked  his career to expose the secrets and lies reveled in The Pentagon
Papers.

Epstein, Joseph.  Snobbery.  Houghton Mifflin, 2002,
In his customary eloquent and witty style, Epstein takes on the prevalence of snobbery in American society.

Fuller, Alexandra.  Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight.  Random, 2002.
Fuller writes with passion and intensity of her childhood growing up in Africa. She writes eloquently and with extraordinary attention to detail about the Africa she so clearly loves.

Gess, Denise and William Lutz.  Firestorm at Peshtigo.  Henry Holt, 2002.
On the same day as the Chicago fire on October 8, 1871, a fire swept through Peshtigo killing more than 2000 people.  From survivors letters, diaries and newspapers this book provides a dramatic account of the tragedy.

McKillop, A. B.  The Spinster and the Prophet.  Four Walls Eight Windows, 2002.
The little-known story of the legal battle that ensured when a determined woman accused the formidable H. G. Wells of plagiarism.

Morgan, Edmund.  Benjamin Franklin.  Yale University Press, 2002.
Using Franklins letters and journals as basic sources for his biography, the eminent historian portrays Franklin as a dynamic and versatile personality.

Page, Nick.  Lord Minimus.  St. Martins Press, 2002.
The author provides an interesting perspective on the atmosphere of the court of King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria in tracing the picaresque life of Jeffrey Hudson, the royal dwarf.

Roy, Charles.  The Back of Beyond.  Westview Press, 2002.
Join Roy as he takes a group of mainly elderly Americans on a tour of Irelands monasteries, abbeys and other sites that are off the beaten path.  Roy recounts some very humorous incidents with his small group, and is refreshingly candid .  A most enjoyable vicarious visit to historic Ireland.

Rayner, Richard.  Drake's Fortune.  Doubleday, 2002.
The fascinating true story of how Oliver Hartzell, a failed farmer from Illinois, swindled people out of millions of dollars before and during the Great Depression.

Russo, Gus. The Outfit.  Bloomsbury Press, 2002.
Abundant details of the history of organized crime in Chicago in the twentieth century.

Temple-Raston, Dina.  A Death in Texas.  Henry Holt, 2002.
The horrifying murder of James Byrd by racially-motivated thugs in Jasper, Texas, is the focus of this important book.

Vowell, Sarah.  The Partly Cloudy Patriot.  Simon and Schuster, 2002.
A collection of witty and insightful essays on a variety of subjects In Americas past and present.  They have been aired on National
Public Radios  This American Life.

Wise, David.  Spy.  Random, 2002.
The story of career agent Robert Hanssen who spied for the Soviet Union for over twenty years before being apprehended. An engrossing and thoroughly documented account.

Worrall, Simon.  The Poet and the Murderer.  Dutton, 2002.
The incredible and fascinating account of the career of Robert Hofmann and his work as a literary forger who made his own inks, used chemicals to age  the paper and fabricated documents.

TD 1/03