Top picks for weekend reads
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THE UNSETTLERS: In Search of the Good Life in Today’s America, by Mark Sundeen. (Riverhead, R187 on Loot.co.za.) Sundeen profiles three families - whom he calls pioneers, of a sort - who chose to live off the grid. They share an important commonality: “They had each taken on a fundamental aspect of how the world is broken, and had attempted, with all their might, to address it - in ways that felt sustainable, maybe even replicable.”
ENIGMA VARIATIONS, by André Aciman. (Picador, R206 on Loot.co.za.) Aciman chronicles a lifetime of desire, love and loss. The central character, Paul, has an early infatuation with a craftsman in Italy that provides the storyline’s loose framework; the plot skips ahead to find him years later, nearly unrecognisable in an acrimonious relationship. Aciman’s novel is a masterly portrayal of arousal and the selves forged by passion.
LETTERS TO VÉRA, by Vladimir Nabokov. Edited and translated by Olga Voronina and Brian Boyd. (Vintage, R218, Loot.co.za.) For more than 50 years, Véra was a “song”, a muse, a protector for her husband. (She was the one to save an early draft of Lolita after Nabokov tried to destroy it.) “It is the prose itself that provides the lasting affirmation,” Martin Amis wrote in The Times, “and underlying it all the lavishness, the freely offered gift, of his divine energy.”
LONG BLACK VEIL, by Jennifer Finney Boylan. (Broadway, R312.) It’s August 1980, and some college friends are looking for mischief
in an abandoned Philadelphia prison. But when one of them goes missing, the night ends in tragedy. Years later, the student’s body is found, and one of the survivors risks exposing two long-held secrets to protect the truth.
ON TURPENTINE LANE, by Elinor Lipman. (Mariner, R200 on Loot.co.za.) Faith Frankel is 32, perhaps more than a little bored, and has set down roots in her Massachusetts hometown. But mysterious objects in her new bungalow draw her into the neighbourhood's past. Lipman’s screwball romance is full of delightfully weird characters. - The New York Times