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My Favorite Five Reads of 2015

Only two of these books, THE WHITES and FATES AND FURIES were actually published last year. The others I just finally got around to enjoying, including THE UNWINDING , LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA and WE’RE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES.

THE UNWINDING, by George Packer.
The only non-fiction book of this bunch struck me as the most daring and insightful examination of the United States since AMERICA WHAT WENT WRONG. Through artful stories of unknown and famous Americans, it captures what’s happened to the country in the past twenty years and how and why the inequalities snowballed. It’s also just a creative portrait/collage of current America.

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Not sure why it took me till now to get to this, but what a thrill and a pleasure to read it for the first time. Such an inspiringly funny and wise meditation on love and aging. From puppy to elderly love, from lust to adoration, from falling in and out and all the comic and tragic complications. And of course it’s about death too, because all his stories are. His twists and dalliances in this one are irresistible.

This is a daring book that somehow manages to be a family novel, a collegiate comedy and a brilliant meditation on how we treat animals. Avoid reading about the book or even glancing at its summary. Just dive into that wonderful opening chapter. It won the 2014 Pen Faulkner Award for a reason.

THE WHITES by Richard Price
This novel is about veteran New York cops obsessing over crimes and criminals they still can’t get past, and how they each deal with their psychological white whales. Might be tedious in other hands, but we’re talking Richard Price, whose pitch perfect reportage fiction, palpable language and dialogue has dazzled me through all of his books, starting with Clockers—the seed for HBO’s THE WIRE.

This unpredictable novel about marriage and secrets rides Goff’s electric and original prose from beginning to end. One downside? It may leave you feeling short and undersexed.

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