Valdosta Daily Times


May 19, 2013

Cool Summer Reads


- — TRANSATLANTIC, Colum McCann, June 4. In “Let the Great World Spin,” Colum McCann wove a wonderful spell by interconnecting the tapestry of several lives and several stories into one powerful New York novel. Winner of the National Book Award, “Let the Great World Spin” remains a masterpiece of beautiful sentences and emotionally charged story telling. With “TransAtlantic,” McCann settles into Ireland then shakes the mix with three stories: Two pilots set course for the first transatlantic journey from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1919; abolitionist Frederick Douglass visits Ireland in the pre-American Civil War years of 1845-46; in 1998, U.S. Sen. George Mitchell flies to Belfast to talk peace. “TransAtlantic” sounds like as much of a highwire act as “Let the Great World Spin,” hopefully McCann can maintain again such a marvelous balance.

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, Neil Gaiman, June 18. Yes, Neil Gaiman has been busy. He’s written numerous short stories, some comics, a Dr. Who television script, great children’s books such as “The Graveyard Book,” movie adaptations of his books such as “Coraline,” but it’s been nearly seven years since “Anansi Boys,” the publication of his last book for adults until now ... In “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” Gaiman tells the story of a middle-aged man who encounters unexpected memories of three generations of females by the pond of his childhood home. A master of fantasy and an astute observer of history and cultures, Gaiman’s masterwork remains “American Gods,” but one can hope that this new novel might come close.

REVOLUTIONARY SUMMER, Joseph J. Ellis, June 4. From “Founding Brothers” to “His Excellency George Washington” to “First Family: Abigail and John Adams” to “American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson,” Joseph J. Ellis is a man who, with authority, can say you want a revolution ... Ellis’ scholarly and readable books on the American Revolution have earned him the Pulitzer Prize and other awards. With “Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence,” Ellis takes readers on a journey to the summer of 1776, when the Continental Congress debated independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Brits sent an armada to destroy the brewing American rebellion, and the Continental Army was on the run. A story that involves Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Ben Franklin and more, Ellis fans should have a summer read to remember.

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