What We’re Reading / What You’re Reading 03.01.13


It’s time for another Friday edition of the segment where we fill you in on what we’re reading, and we hope that you’ll reciprocate by telling us what you’re enjoying (or loathing) as well.

Don’t be shy, we want to hear from you! Feedback from our followers will play a role in helping us to determine what books to read, review, and feature on this site over the coming months. It will also give us a better idea of the topics and genres that interest you.

Aaron is currently reading A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee

40-something lawyer Ben Armstead is teetering on the cusp of a disastrous midlife crisis.  He can see it coming, but he can do little to stop train once it’s finally left the station.  His piss poor judgement and his inability to process the ramifications of his abhorrent behavior leave his wife and their daughter humiliated in the press and near bankrupt.  But can Helen turn things around?  Can this housewife who barely ever held a real job go out into the world and make a name for herself in spite of the mountain of obstacles standing in her way?

Told in the third person, Dee’s writing is spectacular so far.  It’s honest, touching, sympathetic, and damn near heartbreaking in places.  Here’s a sample from early in the first chapter, where Helen (Ben’s wife) is explaining to herself why it’s important that the couple attend therapy together.  With these two simple, yet devastating paragraphs Dee showcases his skill at character building and immediately demands all of the reader’s attention:

Helen closed her eyes. Dr. Becket was just confirming every stereotype Ben held of her, every complaint he went through on the drive home every week about how she was a huckster, a charlatan, who didn’t do anything except repeat whatever you said to her and then ask you what it meant. Why are we even doing this? he would ask. What is the point? Because you had to do something: she had no better answer than that, which was why she usually delivered it silently. You had to try something, even something as wasteful and frustrating and demeaning as this weekly hour in the back of the carriage house, because to do nothing was to find it acceptable that you were in a marriage where you hardly spoke to or touched each other, where your husband was so depressed he was like the walking dead and yet the solipsism of his depression only made you feel cheated and angry, and your daughter was old enough now that none of this was lost on her whether she knew it yet or not.

But now thirty seconds had gone by and Helen hadn’t heard him say anything or even make some kind of immature, derisive sighing sound, as he usually did; and when she opened her eyes again and looked at him, what she saw, to her astonishment, was her husband wiping his eyes with the back of his hand like a child.

Karli is currently reading Norumbega Park by Anthony Giardina

Here at Typographical Era, you know we can’t resist a juicy family saga, and Norumbega Park promises all the family dysfunction and suburban drama we could hope for!  When Richie Palumbo spots a big beautiful house in a Boston neighborhood and decides to buy it, he unexpectedly enters a whole new world of social dynamics and suburban expectations.  Told over a span of 40 years, the Palumbo family will experience laughter, heartache, grief, and awakening, and luckily for us, we get a front row seat!  And the pressure of keeping up appearances starts on page 1:

[Richie] carries with him a keen awareness that people are watching them, that their lives are on display here and they must behave differently, affect a certain refinement.  There are rural people here, of course, shopping for turkeys, but also men in pressed khakis, men who belong, mysteriously, to this world of “the country.”  Something of who he and Stella are as a couple must not be too much on display.  He tries to affect the smile of the native, and when he touches Stella, it is with the delicacy that he imagines other men, bankers, might adopt when touching their wives.

Let us know your thoughts on what you’re currently reading using the comment field below.

About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.