Monday, April 19, 2010

Just Finished...

Steve reports, "I've just finished The Country Ahead of Us, The Country Behind, a collection of short stories by David Guterson who also wrote Snow Falling On Cedars. I don't know why I picked it up—I'm not really a big fan of short stories—but it was pretty good. Not funny or action-packed, just simple stories that make you think.

"I don't remember whether I told you about
Snow by Orhan Pamuk which won the Nobel Prize for Literature. It was enjoyable, but in some ways very tedious and sad, and kind of difficult to relate to considering it is set in a very poor part of Turkey and concerns the politics of that area.

"I really enjoyed
Imperium by Robert Harris, which is a work of historical fiction about Cicero."

About The Country Ahead of Us, The Country Behind:

Like his novel
Snow Falling On Cedars, for which he received the PEN/Faulkner Award, Guterson's beautifully observed and emotionally piercing short stories are set largely in the Pacific Northwest. In these vast landscapes, hunting, fishing, and sports are the givens of men's lives. With prose that stings like the scent of gunpowder, this is a collection of power.

Imperium from

When Tiro, the confidential secretary (and slave) of a Roman senator, opens the door to a terrified stranger on a cold November morning, he sets in motion a chain of events that will eventually propel his master into one of the most suspenseful courtroom dramas in history. The stranger is a Sicilian, a victim of the island's corrupt Roman governor, Verres. The senator is Marcus Cicero—an ambitious young lawyer and spellbinding orator, who at the age of twenty-seven is determined to attain imperium—supreme power in the state.

Of all the great figures of the Roman world, none was more fascinating or charismatic than Cicero. And Tiro—the inventor of shorthand and author of numerous books, including a celebrated biography of his master (which was lost in the Dark Ages)—was always by his side.

Compellingly written in Tiro's voice, Imperium is the re-creation of his vanished masterpiece, recounting in vivid detail the story of Cicero's quest for glory, competing with some of the most powerful and intimidating figures of his—or any other—age: Pompey, Caesar, Crassus, and the many other powerful Romans who changed history.

Robert Harris, the world's master of innovative historical fiction, lures us into a violent, treacherous world of Roman politics at once exotically different from and yet startlingly similar to our own—a world of Senate intrigue and electoral corruption, special prosecutors and political adventurism—to describe how one clever, compassionate, devious, vulnerable man fought to reach the top.