Ivy Pochoda

Ivy Pochoda's Visitation Street has quickly become a fast-moving bestseller. Named one of Barnes & Noble's Best Books of 2013… So Far,  it's a tale of friends ominously entwined by a mysterious disappearance on the East River waterfront separating the Red Hook section of Brooklyn from glimmering Manhattan. Pochoda's deft noir has captivated critics with its ring-of-truth characterization and suspenseful twists and turns. This week, the Brooklyn native shares thoughts on three of her own favorite reads of recent memory, suggesting the varied tastes and influences behind her own intriguing fiction.

 



Pafko at the Wall
By Don DeLillo

"I keep coming back to Don DeLillo's novella, which later became the prologue to his magnum opus, Underworld. As a former professional athlete (who never managed to articulate how my sport was sometimes a microcosm of my life) I love how DeLillo channels his impressions of post–World War II America and the threat of nuclear war through Bobby Thomson's legendary 1951 pennant-clinching home run. He telescopes massive global anxiety into New York City's 'strangulated rapture' as this season-ending game unfolds, taking the reader around the stadium, into the broadcast booth, out over rooftops, and into private homes. Then DeLillo masterfully narrows this panorama to pinpoint, a moment so fine and slight -- 'the stay in time that lasts a hairsbreath' -- as Bobby Thomson takes a chin-high pitch and hits it into the lower deck."

 



Bleak House
By Charles Dickens

"I am embarrassed by how long it took me to pick up Bleak House. I was daunted by both the size and slightly put off by the title. I mean, bleak? Come on. Yet there is more delight on each page than in almost any other book I've read. The devious Tulkinghorn, poor Mr. Guppy, and imperious Lady Dedlock! Bleak House is juicy social novel, a mystery, a tale of redemption. Although the plot may be complex, the invention, wit, and, of course, the secrets -- a Dickensian specialty -- are so riveting that at nearly 900 pages I still wish Bleak House were longer."

 



Jesus' Son
By Denis Johnson

"I know I'm not alone in my obsession with the hallucinatory poetry of Johnson's collection of interconnected stories. This book grabbed me by the throat and dragged me through a malignant and fascinating last-chance world on the fringe of society. There's a precision to Johnson's writing that allows the reader to identify with even his most debased scenarios. These stories of addiction and loneliness will rip your heart out on one page and then tantalize you with a pinprick of hope on the text."

 

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."