Random acts of reading for September

There was no theme to my reading this month, so you may need to read through the entire list to find what appeals to you.
My first offering is from one of our most gifted American writers. Anything by Ron Rash is a literary treat. Superb stories exquisitely crafted sentence by sentence. His latest, “In the Valley”, is a collection of short stories and a novella which is a sequel to his novel 
“The Pull of the Stars” by Emma Donoghue, author of “Room,” is historical fiction and tells the sometimes gruesome story of a labor and delivery ward in Dublin during the Flu Pandemic of 1918. An excellent combination of the challenges of medicine, politics and social change.
Jill McCorkle penned “Hieroglyphics,” a somewhat melancholy but highly readable book of an older couple looking back over highlights, tragedies and mistakes during their life as they retire to North Carolina.
“Crooked Hallelujah” is a debut novel from Kelli Jo Ford. She is a previous award winner for her writing and she gives us a wonderful saga of four generations of Cherokee women fighting the environment, a restrictive church and often, poor judgement, to make a life in Oklahoma and Texas. These are strong women who shun pity and own the choices they make.
“Godshot” is another debut novel, this one by Chelsea Bieker. Some similarities in these two books both set in a drought-stricken West with strong female characters and a punitive church with a controlling pastor. Bieker is clearly talented and I enjoyed both of these novels.
The title of this next book of short stories is needlessly provocative. The book is wonderful. I just don’t agree with the title of the story they used to headline the book. Don’t let it keep you from reading “F*ckface and Other Stories” by Leah Hampton.
“More Better Deals” is a noir crime story by Joe R. Lansdale set in 1960’s Texas with a used car salesman as the lead character. Lansdale is a former Edgar Award winner so he knows how to write a crime story. It is mind-boggling how much effort criminals put into their maniacal schemes for “easy” money.
“Interior Chinatown” by Charles Yu is completely different — a send up of Hollywood and the way Asians are portrayed in the usual role of “Generic Asian Man.” A satire of the first order regarding race, pop culture and society.
Arlene Heyman follows her character, Lottie, across generations as she finds her way as a scientist, mother, wife, lover and activist in “artifact.” I loved this as Lottie’s experience reminded me of my own travails in medical school in the 1970’s.
Megan Goldin’s mystery “The Night Swim” will both engage and enrage you.
My last two are nonfiction. “Miracle Country” by Kendra Atleework is a beautifully rendered tribute to the desert area of California where she was raised as well as an environmental history of that state. Her family memoir is touching and compelling.
For a rollicking good time, you must read “A Very Punchable Face” by Colin Jost. This book by the “Saturday Night Live” writer and cast member is a fast and funny read that will leave you cheered.
For more information, check out beckysbookclub.com.

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