List for 1999
The Notable Books Council of the Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, selected these titles for their significant contribution to the expansion of knowledge or for the pleasure they can provide to adult readers.
F I C T I O N
Anderson, Scott. Triage. Scribner, $23 (0-684-84695-0). This superb debut novel, reminiscent of Hemingway's work, deftly presents the psychological effects of war. Anderson delivers a story filled with guilt, love, and ultimately reconciliation.
Anthony, Patricia. Flanders. Ace, $23.95 (0-441-00528-4). In a series of letters home, Texas sharpshooter Travis Lee describes life in the trenches during World War I and his visions of impending death.
Barrett, Andrea. The Voyage of the Narwhal. W. W. Norton, $24.95 (0-393-04632-X). Rich in historical and natural detail, filled with adventure and romance, this tale of a 19th century Arctic expedition explores the affects of extreme circumstances on character.
Borges, Jorge Luis. Collected Fictions. Tr. by Andrew Hurley. Viking, $35 (0-670-84970-7). For the first time in English, all the intriguing and ingenious stories by the master of the magical are brought together in a new and lively translation.
Byers, Michael. The Coast of Good Intentions. Houghton/Mariner, paper, $12 (0-395-89170-1)The lives of ordinary people fill these extraordinary stories, each distinctive, all linked by a strongly evoked setting. Assured, perceptive storytelling makes this an impressive debut.
Danticat, Edwidge. The Farming of Bones. Soho, $23 (1-56947-126-6). Anabelle, a Haitian servant in the Dominican Republic, recalls the 1937 slaughter of her people and her lover in this lush, sensuous depiction of a forgotten tragedy.
Hornby, Nick. About a Boy. Penguin/Riverhead, $22.95 (1-57322-087-6). Through hilarious characterizations, Hornby crafts a sharp and insightful journey of two "boys—"Will, 36, and Marcus, 12—teaching each other to become men.
McDermott, Alice. Charming Billy. Farrar, $22 (0-374-12080-3). Billy Lynch's death prompts the unraveling of a lifelong secret in McDermott's eloquent exploration of deception and its lingering influences on family and friends.
Moore, Lorrie. Birds of America. Knopf, $23 (0-679-44597-8). In a wise and funny short story collection, Moore's protagonists cope with life's compromises and confusions with honesty and humor.
Roth, Philip. I Married a Communist. Houghton Mifflin, $26 (0-395-93346-3). Ira Ringold, an idealistic and larger-than-life character, embraces communism and collides with McCarthyism and the rancor of his estranged wife, Eve Frame.
N O N F I C T I O N
Ackroyd, Peter. The Life of Thomas More. Doubleday, $30 (0-385-47709-0). Ackroyd vividly portrays the life and times of the complex statesman and author who was martyred for refusing to follow Henry VIII's break with Catholicism.
Berg, A. Scott. Lindbergh. Putnam, $30 (0-399-14449-8). Masterfully written and extensively researched, this beautifully balanced biography depicts one of the twentieth century's most controversial, famous and yet private of men.
Branch, Taylor. Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65. Simon & Schuster, $30 (0-684-80819-6). In the second volume of his epic trilogy, Branch captures the climatic struggles of the Civil Rights Movement and its leaders at their zenith.
Chernow, Ron. Titan: The Life of John D. Rockfeller, Sr. Random, $30 (0-679-43808-4). Chernow draws a comprehensive and objective portrait of the founder of Standard Oil, including his business practices, family life, and devotion to philanthropy.
Clapp, Nicholas. The Road to Ubar: Finding the Atlantis of the Sands. Houghton Mifflin, $24 (0-395-87596-X). This is a fascinating first person account of amateur archaeologists' quest for the lost, mythic Arabian city of Ubar, using camels, computers, and NASA photos.
Gorney, Cynthia. Articles of Faith: A Frontline History of the Abortion Wars. Simon & Schuster, $27.50 (0-684-80904-4). Gorney chronicles Missouri's 20-year battle over abortion from the perspectives of a pro-choice nurse and a pro-life minister, with a deep respect for both viewpoints.
Hochschild, Adam. King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa. Houghton Mifflin, $26 (0-395-75924-2). This is a harrowing account of how King Leopold II of Belgium plundered the Congo and suppressed the human rights activists who tried to wake the world to the tragedy.
Kinder, Gary. Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea. Atlantic Monthly, $27.50 (0-87113-464-0). This true-life treasure hunt begins with the 1857 sinking of a gold-laden steamship and ends 130 years later with its amazing recovery by engineer and inventor Tommy Thompson.
Nasar, Sylvia. A Beautiful Mind. Simon & Schuster, $25 (0-684-81906-6). The worlds of mathematics and mental illness come together in a fascinating portrait of John Forbes Nash, Jr., whose brilliant career was interrupted by schizophrenia in his 20s, yet culminated in the Nobel Prize for Economics 30 years later.
Suskind, Ron. A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League. Broadway, $25 (0-7679-0125-8). Upon graduation, Cedric Jennings, a hard-working black student, escapes from a demoralizing high school only to learn that success requires more than dreams and desire.
P O E T R Y
Doty, Mark. Sweet Machine. HarperFlamingo, paper, $12 (0-06-095256-3). The tactile beauty of the world as well as some of its sadness are translated into luminous poetry.
Hall, Donald. Without. Houghton Mifflin, $22 (0-395-88408-X). This poignant, touching collection lovingly chronicle the death of Hall's wife, the poet Jane Kenyon, and courageously shares this immense grief and fury.
Hughes, Ted. Tales from Ovid. Farrar, $25 (0-374-22841-8). In a partnering of poets, Hughes transforms twenty-four mythic tales from Ovid's Metamorphoses into a powerful re-creation for our time.
Matthews, William. After All: Last Poems. Houghton Mifflin, $20 (0-395-91340-3). In the last collection before his death, Matthews provides unrestrained imagery and diverse viewpoints on writing, language, travel, illness, and everyday life.