Salon recommends

A sexual reawakening on a trip to Italy, an introductory guide to graphic novels and more.


Salon Staff
July 2, 2001 11:00PM (UTC)

What we're reading, what we're liking

The 101 Best Graphic Novels by Stephen Weiner
For those of us who have stumbled across a few of the great graphic novels -- not just the obvious one, "Maus," but also "The Sandman," "Love and Rockets," "Why I Hate Saturn" and "From Hell" -- finding more of the same can be a daunting task. Comics stores seem like the sanctum sanctorum of a baffling cult, and hardcore acolytes often don't quite see the qualities that make comic art appeal to a nonspecialist audience. This guide, while possibly and ironically the worst designed book I've ever seen, has given me lots of ideas for what to read next.

Advertisement:

-- Laura Miller

An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser
In a perfect world, all romance novels would read like Laura Fraser's "An Italian Affair." Fraser's memoir begins shortly after her husband of one year dumps her for an old girlfriend. On a trip to Italy Fraser meets a married aesthetics professor from France and commences a fling that, in intervals, continues all over the map, from Marrakech to London, from the volcanic island of Stromboli to Fraser's home turf of San Francisco. Yes, the book is about the author's sensual reawakening and, inescapably, her sensual healing. But Fraser, a hedonist to the core (though not a heedless one), is no narcissist. She offers up each encounter as a series of delicious descriptions of meals and landscape and sights. She can afford to be discreet in the sexual passages because of the sensuality that pervades the book. And she lets you feel as if you're sharing each encounter with her, an effect heightened by her use of the second person. Fraser is an unusually generous memoirist. When she gets lucky so do her readers.

-- Charles Taylor

Recent books praised by Salon's critics

The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon
A cultural cottage industry has sprung up around depression, the most isolating of illnesses.
Reviewed by Maria Russo
[06/27/01]

I Only Say This Because I Love You by Deborah Tannen
The author of "You Just Don't Understand" turns her eagle eye on the stinging, maddening, sneaky ways that family members communicate.
Reviewed by Maria Russo
[06/26/01]

Advertisement:

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
A hard-boiled fantasia by the author of "The Sandman" sends a cast of burned-out mythological deities on a cross-country attempt at a comeback tour.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[06/22/01]

Thinks by David Lodge
The author of "Changing Places" offers another delightful novel of manners about academia, adultery and human consciousness.
Reviewed by Maria Russo
[06/22/01]

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Fifty-seven men -- and one extraordinary woman -- are held hostage by guerrillas in the latest novel by the author of "The Magician's Assistant."
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[06/22/01]

Doghouse Roses by Steve Earle
An acclaimed country music songwriter makes his fiction debut in a collection of stories straight from the bar at the Tip Top Lounge.
Reviewed by King Kaufman
[06/22/01]

Advertisement:

In the City of Shy Hunters by Tom Spanbauer
The early days of the AIDS epidemic, seen through the eyes of a beautiful, enigmatic hero who's not gay, not straight, not bisexual.
Reviewed by Peter Kurth
[06/22/01]

All the Finest Girls by Alexandra Styron
The daughter of two egotistical white artists faces some ugly truths when she seeks out the kin of the Caribbean housekeeper who raised her.
Reviewed by Suzy Hansen
[06/22/01]

The Collected Stories of Richard Yates The bard of disintegrating marriages and deluded artists is enjoying a posthumous boom with a masterly story collection.
Reviewed by Maria Russo
[06/19/01]

Advertisement:

The Cold Six Thousand by James Ellroy
With his latest tale of epic conspiracy and evil, Ellroy takes crime fiction as far as it can go -- and maybe even farther.
Reviewed by Allen Barra
[06/13/01]

Not in Front of the Children by Marjorie Heins
Our hysterical attempts to shield kids from images of sex and violence are stunting young lives -- and trapping us all in a Big Lie.
Reviewed by Charles Taylor
[06/11/01]

Hooked by Lonny Shavelson
A powerful new book on the drug war's trenches argues that treatment is the answer -- but our current system dooms more addicts than it helps.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[06/07/01]

Advertisement:

Ghosts of Manila by Mark Kram
A devastating book overturns the boxer's saintly image and redeems one victim of his racial stereotyping -- Joe Frazier.
Reviewed by Larry Platt
[06/06/01]

Fraud by David Rakoff
An archly funny essayist studies Tibetan Buddhism with Steven Seagal, searches for the Loch Ness monster and plays Sigmund Freud in a department store window.
Reviewed by Amy Reiter
[06/01/01]

Comic Book Nation by Bradford W. Wright
Before movies and rock 'n' roll, comics invented youth culture. A new book asks whether they can survive.
Reviewed by Damien Cave
[05/18/01]

"Killing Pablo" By Mark Bowden and "Shooting the Moon" by David Harris
Two new books detail America's deadly pursuit of Manuel Noriega and Pablo Escobar.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[05/24/01]

Advertisement:

Passage by Connie Willis
Two scientists who study near-death experiences are pulled into their own research in a brainy, eerie, genre-defying suspense novel.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[05/21/01]

Empire Falls by Richard Russo
In the latest from the author of "Mohawk" and Nobody's Fool," the residents of a small Maine town survive on simmering feuds, dirty backroom deals and plenty of comic relief.
Reviewed by Maria Russo
[05/21/01]

Glue by Irvine Welsh
From the author of "Trainspotting," another high-octane tale of Edinburgh toughs who live for gitting their hole and leathering laddies.
Reviewed by Amy Benfer
[05/21/01]

Endangered Species by Louis Bayard
A gay government worker hit with the urge to reproduce braves personal ads, surrogate moms and a showdown with the male biological imperative.
Reviewed by Kerry Lauerman
[05/21/01]

Advertisement:

My Little Blue Dress by Bruno Maddox
The touching memoir of a 100-year-old woman -- forged by a young media commentator at the end of his rope.
Reviewed by Maria Russo
[05/21/01]

Carry Me Across the Water by Ethan Canin
In the author's latest novel, a wealthy, aging entrepreneur tries to correct a lifetime's mistakes.
Reviewed by Amy Reiter
[05/21/01]

In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd by Ana Menindez
A mesmerizing portrait of Miami's Cuban exiles, haunted by memories of endless blue skies, elegant homes and round-hipped women.
Reviewed by Ruth Henrich
[05/21/01]

Sister Noon by Karen Joy Fowler
A mysterious black woman is running the show in a comic novel of strivers, do-gooders and racial fear in Gilded Age San Francisco.
Reviewed by Suzy Hansen
[05/21/01]

Advertisement:

American Son by Brian Ascalon Roley
In a searing look at the immigrant experience, two half-Filipino brothers navigate a California of small-time thieves, Mexican gangsters and attack dogs trained using Nazi techniques.
Reviewed by Suzy Hansen
[05/21/01]

Strange Fire by Melvin Jules Bukiet
An Israeli speechwriter blinded by torturers smells his way through a wise and satisfying novel of international intrigue.
Reviewed by Amy Benfer
[05/21/01]

The Trial of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens
If Henry Kissinger isn't guilty of war crimes, no one is. A Vietnam War whistleblower on Christopher Hitchens' case against the former secretary of state
Reviewed by Fred Branfman
[05/16/01]

The Dying Animal by Philip Roth
In the author's new novel, carnal pursuits are all-consuming as a 62-year-old professor beds his 24-year-old student.
Reviewed by Charles Taylor
[05/15/01]

Advertisement:

"Down the Highway" and "Positively Fourth Street" Two new books make it clear why Bob Dylan had to ditch the phony, self-righteous Greenwich Village folk scene.
Reviewed by Allen Barra
[05/14/01]

John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead
In Colson Whitehead's dazzling follow-up to "The Intuitionist," a junketeering journalist pursues an American legend in an epic tale of man, machine and free drinks.
Reviewed by Jonathan Miles
[05/11/01]

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Barbara Ehrenreich spent two years as a waitress, maid and Wal-Mart clerk, trying to find out how America's working poor make it. Her answer: A lot of them don't.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[05/09/01]

Night of Stone by Catherine Merridale
A historian's view of 20th century Russia shows the traumatic legacy of totalitarian terror.
Reviewed by Charles Taylor
[05/07/01]

Advertisement:

Forces of Habit by David Courtwright
Drugs like alcohol and tobacco created the modern world, argues one historian, but caffeine still rules it.
Reviewed by Maria Russo
[05/03/01]

Double Fold by Nicholson Baker
A crusading novelist indicts America's libraries for destroying precious archives of newspapers and books -- and puts his own savings on the line to rescue them.
Reviewed by Stephanie Zacharek
[04/27/01]

Body of Secrets by James Bamford
The author of a pioneering work on the NSA delivers a new book of revelations about the mysterious agency's coverups, eavesdropping and secret missions.
Reviewed by Bruce Schneier
[04/25/01]

What to read: The best of April fiction
Louise Erdrich's tale of a Catholic priest who's secretly a woman, Haruki Murakami's story of a vanished lover, a hilarious debut novel about a fake feng shui master who cons New York society and more.
By Salon's critics
[04/19/01]

Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Marukami
A cult-favorite novelist's seductive, eerie tale of a vanished lover
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[04/19/01]

This Is Not a Novel by David Markson
Another cheeky, strangely moving tour de force from a master of experimental fiction
Reviewed by Maria Russo
[04/19/01]

Fixer Chao by Han Ong
A con artist posing as a feng shui master infiltrates New York high society in an acclaimed playwright's hilariously bitchy first novel
Reviewed by Amy Benfer
[04/19/01]

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich
The author of "The Beet Queen" delivers an enthralling tale of a Catholic priest who's secretly a woman
Reviewed by Amy Reiter
[04/19/01]

The Gardens of Kyoto by Kate Walbert
A dazzling, intricate novel spins out the back story of American soldiers sent overseas, and the women they left behind
Reviewed by Suzy Hansen
[04/19/01]

The Far Field by Edie Meidav
In an eagerly anticipated debut novel, a colonialist in Ceylon faces political deception, erotic intrigue and the failure of his own ideals.
Reviewed by Amy Benfer
[04/19/01]

The Hero's Walk by Anita Rau Badami
A Canadian-raised orphan returns to her grandparents' Indian village in an irreverent look at the clash between tradition and modernity.
Reviewed by Suzy Hansen
[04/19/01]

The Rights of Desire by Andre Brink
A May-December romance set in a post-Apartheid South Africa where violence is always ready to erupt.
Reviewed by Jonathan Miles
[04/19/01]

Buddha by Karen Armstrong
A former Catholic nun's short biography of the Buddha explains the elusive Eastern sage in terms that even drama-hungry Westerners can understand.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[04/18/01]

My Misspent Youth by Meghan Daum
A former Gen X journalist finds fodder for her essays in an Internet romance, going broke in New York and hating science fiction fans.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[04/16/01]

Secret Places: My Life in New York and New Guinea by Tobias Schneebaum
Amateur ethnographer and author Tobias Schneebaum has lived and among former headhunters -- and even sampled their cuisine.
Reviewed by Douglas Cruickshank
[04/13/01]

The Immortal Class by Travis Hugh Culley
A suburban lad tells how he found guts, glory and a sustainable transit option in the renegade world of bike messengers.
Reviewed by Maria Russo
[04/10/01]

"Surviving Galeras" and "No Apparent Danger" Nine scientists met grisly deaths in a 1993 eruption in Colombia, but the battle over who was to blame rages on in two new books.
Reviewed by Laura Miller
[04/11/01]

Stoned: A Memoir of London in the 1960s by Andrew Loog Oldham
The man who turned the Rolling Stones into bad-boy icons tells his story, and a fan weighs in.
Reviewed by Stephanie Zacharek
[04/06/01]

Crawling at Night by Nani Power
In this complex, erotic novel, Asian and Western characters pursue desire's mysterious byways.
Reviewed by Mary Gaitskill
[04/05/01]

Facing the Wind by Julie Salamon
The author of "The Devil's Candy" tells the true story of the ideal family man who suddenly plunged into homicidal madness.
Reviewed by Andrew O'Hehir
[04/04/01]

Going Up the River by Joseph Hallinan
Nonviolent criminals go in and sadistic thugs come out, but with military spending down, America's small towns are hooked on prisons, a new book says.
Reviewed by Maria Russo
[03/29/01]

Stalingrad 1942-1943: The Infernal Cauldron by Stephen Walsh
Two books tell the truth about Stalingrad, the most horrific battle of our time -- and a movie desecrates it.
Reviewed by Gary Kamiya
[03/28/01]

Carry Me Home by Diane McWhorter
A golden girl from Birmingham's elite takes a cold, hard look at her hometown's ugly past -- and her own father's role in it.
Reviewed by Allen Barra
[03/26/01]

"The Dream of Reason" and "Socrates Cafi"
Two authors explain philosophy's mysteries to the layman, but which book is better?
By Laura Miller
[03/23/01]

What to Read: March Fiction
Allegra Goodman's hilarious tale of promiscuous spiritual seeking, Pat Barker's tough-minded look at a child who murders, Nuala O'Faolain's searing novel of middle-aged sexuality and more.
By Salon's critics [03/15/01]

Seabiscuit, An American Legend by Laura Hillebrand
Surprise! The book everyone is reading and loving stars a stocky, funny-looking hero with four legs -- the champion racehorse Seabiscuit.
Reviewed by Charles Taylor [03/14/01]

Inside Pitch by George Gmelch
Podunk towns, brutal competition, wooden bats and dirty laundry -- an anthropologist shows what the lives of pro baseball players are really like.
Reviewed by King Kaufman
[03/09/01]


Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Books

BROWSE SALON.COM
COMPLETELY AD FREE,
FOR THE NEXT HOUR

Read Now, Pay Later - no upfront
registration for 1-Hour Access

Click Here
7-Day Access and Monthly
Subscriptions also available
No tracking or personal data collection
beyond name and email address

•••






Fearless journalism
in your inbox every day

Sign up for our free newsletter

• • •