#FridayReads, July 5–The Affairs of Others, Amy Grace Loyd’s novel of domestic manners set in a Brooklyn widow’s small apartment house where residents become much more to her–and readers–than mere tenants. I made this part of my #FridayReads last week, and continued enjoying it this holiday week, finishing the book a couple days ago. I relished Loyd’s mesmerizing sentences, many of which begged to be read out loud, with a plot that I knew from the Editor’s Buzz panel at BEA would explore the the sensual and erotic. There was great restraint in the writing, and characters I came to really care for, like the resident of the top floor, Mr. Coughlan, a longtime ferryboat captain in NY Harbor. I have lived in a NYC apartment building for more than 20 years with lots of strange neighbors, so the subplots and side characters in the book were very real to me, and remain so having finished it. No spoiler here, but I’ll say it ends, as great works of art sometimes do, with a memorable meal. The novel by Loyd, who is the fiction editor of byliner.com, will be out in early September.
I’ve now moved on to read the timely piece of narrative nonfiction, “Burn” by reporter Jaime Joyce. It’s on the 1990 Dude Fire in Arizona, where professional firefighters and inmates from a nearby prison risked their lives in confronting the dangerous blaze. “Burn” is published on a new website collecting longform journalism called The Big Roundtable, where I am a reader participating in their process of selecting new stories. The Big Roundtable is the brainchild, in part, of Michael Shapiro, a professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and an author whose book, Solomon’s Sword: Two Families and the Children the State Took Away, I edited some years ago.