The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton
An unexpected treasure because of its parallel narrative, which never mentions “pleasure” or “sorrow”, as Botton peaks inside numerous industries and careers to give a narrative — again parallel to — for day-to-day or week-to-week life in aerospace sales, mass food distribution, career counseling, logistics, cookie mfg, rocket science (in the jungles of French Guiana), painting, and accountancy. One gets a sense of both terror and nirvana depending upon how you see your own life fitting (or having fit) into the world of work.
The Twenty-Seventh City by Jonathan Franzen
A terribly gifted imagination and careful writer, Franzen riffs on America’s political structure, power elites, and those who cannot change their stripes. When an Indian woman becomes St. Louis’s chief of police, the black-ops of Subcontinent political chicanery is seeded in the American heartland. At once believable and literary, and we’ve all met people like those populated in this novel.
Talking it Over by Julian Barnes
A love triangle meeted out in soto-voce increments from the three players. Barnes’s dialogue is quite snappy and in high form, although I thought the characters, and plot, ultimately predictable. I read more than halfway, then jumped ahead by increments of 7 – 12 pages, and guessed right: she relents to the 3rd’s advances, ruins her marriage, the new couple tear at each other’s throats while the cuckold tries to win her back. Ugh! Oi! (and there’s a sequal … can you imagine!?)