If time and money were infinite, this is what I would buy and read.
The Cat’s Table
I first read Ondaatje in 1992—The Collected Works of Billy the Kid—while in the grip of an untreated fever from streptococcal pharyngitis. (Being Canadian and having access to free healthcare still requires the individual good sense to go see a doctor. Ah, 19 year-old me… such a fuckwit.) I mean it only as a compliment when I say that he was the perfect writer to read while shivering and hallucinating in a tiny garrett in a bad part of town, though I am certain that reading his new novel on a commuter train while sipping hot coffee will be equally evocative and illuminating.
All I know about Tom Perrotta is that he writes novels that get turned into good movies (Election, Little Children). This time out he is tackling the timely topic of a post-Rapture world, telling the story through the lens of those left behind in one small town. It’s being adapted for HBO, but I’m thinking that it’s best not to wait. I mean, I’ve only got until October.
Something weird is going on: if I read an author and am looking forward to their next book, they take forever (Markus Zusak, Mark Haddon, Max Brooks) but if I’ve dawdled and taken my time getting around to someone, they stack them up like cordwood so that I’m only more daunted to start. Such is the case with Toby Ball, whose well-received debut novel The Vaults is still glaring out at me from the to-read pile, and who now has a follow-up on the shelves. Apparently it’s good, too.
Fine, Ball, I’ll read your bloody books. Let’s see how quick you are then.