Wally Lamb


Three reads of great character.



Wally Lamb's literary triumphs began only after a career in teaching was  well under way, but with his first novel, 1992's She's Come Undone, Lamb was hailed by critics and readers alike as a creator of unique, affecting characters.  Novels, like  I Know This Much Is True contiued to gather acclaim, but the author's teaching continued to be a central part of his work, and in 2006 he shepherded into print Couldn't Keep It to Myself: Testimonies from Our Imprisoned Sisters, an anthology of writing by the inmates he had been working with at a Connecticut penal institution.  His latest book, Wishin' and Hopin', is a wry,  irreverent portrait of one family's holiday season in a blue-collar New Englad town in 1964.  He recommended three wonderful reads.


Books by Wally Lamb






Olive Kitteridge

By Elizabeth Strout


"I caught up with this 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner while vacationing at Cape Cod this fall. (Having arrived at the same time as the great white sharks, I did lots of reading and precious little swimming!) Strout’s novel-in-stories is beautifully rendered and features a title character the likes of whom I’ve never before encountered in fiction. Flip and feisty, self-righteous yet oddly sympathetic, Olive is unforgettable. In some of the stories she stars; in others she makes cameo appearances. Each tale is a gem. With this one book, Strout proves herself a master of both the short and long forms. I loved it."




American Salvage

By Bonnie Jo Campbell


"Campbell’s American Salvage may not be for the faint of heart, but each of the stories in this memorable collection reveals the hard, unvarnished truths of lost souls just barely scraping by, emotionally as well as economically. I’m a fan of both Maine writer Carolyn Chute and the late, great Southern writer Larry Brown, and though Campbell’s Michigan-tethered characters live west of Chute’s and north of Brown’s, they’re kindred spirits. Campbell is a 2009 National Book Award nominee for this collection—deservedly so. Chick lit this ain’t!"





Keep Your Head Down

By Dough Anderson


"Anderson’s unflinching memoir of his hard-scrabble 1950s childhood, his harrowing tour of duty as a combat medic in ’Nam, and his subsequent struggle for emotional survival from both is rendered in language that somehow manages to be simultaneously lush and brutal. Anderson’s depiction of “snake brain,” the defense mechanism that helps him survive the ravages of jungle combat, then dogs and debilitates him as he struggles against addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder is visceral, heartbreaking, and illuminating. Anderson, a gifted poet, lays bare his soul and helps us better understand the ravages of war. "


April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.