What to read in the New Year? Here are two novels on my radar screen that look particularly good.
Richard Powers’ new novel, set to release the week of January 19, is likely on many anticipated lists – Powers won the 2006 National Book Award for The Echo Maker and is a critically acclaimed author with a cult following. In Orfeo, composer protagonist 70-year-old Peter Els ends up on the lam when Homeland Security discovers his home-based biochemical engineering lab, where Peter pursues an innocent hobby. His fugitive status gains him recognition as the “Bioterrorist Bach.” The story looks back through his life as he visits people he once knew. Kirkus Reviews, in a starred review, writes:
“The earmarks of the renowned novelist’s work are here—the impressive intellect, the patterns connecting music and science and so much else, the classical grounding of the narrative—but rarely have his novels been so tightly focused and emotionally compelling.”
The publisher’s description of The Good Luck of Right Now begins: “For thirty-eight years, Bartholomew Neil has lived with his mother. When she gets sick and dies, he has no idea how to be on his own. His redheaded grief counselor, Wendy, says he needs to find his flock and leave the nest. But how does a man whose whole life has been grounded in his mom, Saturday mass, and the library learn how to fly?”
The answer lies in writing to actor Richard Gere, whose “Free Tibet” letter Bartholomew finds in his mother’s underwear drawer. Adjectives when writing about the book include “offbeat gem” (Booklist), “quirky coming-of-age story” (Publisher’s Weekly) and “quirky, feel-good fiction” (Kirkus Reviews). Maybe my attention on this novel is overly influenced by the wonderful laughter I experienced watching the dance competition in the movie “Silver Linings Playbook,” which is based on the book by Quick.(The Silver Linings Playbook is his debut novel.) Could some of that humor lie within his new book? I hope so.
The Good Luck of Right Now is scheduled for release the second week of February.