by John Stoehr
By José Saramago
Harcourt, 256 pages, $24
REVIEWED BY MICHAEL LUCERO
In his new book, Nobel Prize-winning novelist José Saramago wryly summarizes his literary voice: "chaotic syntax, the absence of full stops, the complete lack of very necessary parentheses, the obsessive elimination of paragraphs, the random use of commas, and, most unforgivable sin of all, the intentional and almost diabolical abolition of the capital letter ..."
By David Carr
Simon & Schuster, 400 pages, $26
REVIEWED BY ERIC LIEBETRAU
Reformed-junkie memoirs are about as common — and unique — as tough-childhood memoirs, but New York Times contributor David Carr's The Night of the Gun is a refreshing change of pace.
In these days after James Frey's A Million Little Pieces, a memoir of "essential truth" that was discredited by Oprah Winfrey, Carr is exceedingly careful in his reconstruction of his drug-addled memories, and his well-honed journalistic skills elevate the book well above the standard-issue memoir.
By Julian Barnes
Knopf, 244 pages, $25
By Karen Spears Zacharias
Zondervan, 218 pages, $19
WRITTEN BY JASON A. ZWIKER
One night, when I was 15, a strange and disturbing thought snapped me out of sleep. One day — not soon, but inevitably — I was going to die.
Death, so they taught us in Catholic school, was transcending this fallen world into the welcoming arms of God, where everything wrong was made right, where every tear was wiped away.
On the other hand, if you were among the most horrible, sinful kinds of people imaginable — an ax murderer, for example, or an unwed mother — death was a door that led straight to the Devil.
Despite years of instruction by well-meaning priests, nuns, and lay ministers, as well as my own family, on that dark night of the soul long ago, it occurred to me that as nice a story as that made, it was a bit far-fetched.
I realized that not only was death absolutely real and directly applicable to me, but that death most probably meant, well, death.
As in lights out. Game over.