each Us to Sit Still by Tim Parks (Rodale, $26). With great candor, Tim Parks shares his experience with prostate pain whose cause no professional can diagnose. Incredibly, his doctor still wants to operate. Fearful of incontinence and impotence, the author instead finds relief in meditation. This one's beautifully written and smart. Parks isn't the wheatgrass type.
The Spare Room by Helen Garner (Picador, $14). The Australian narrator puts up an infuriating old friend, who's undergoing quack treatments for cancer. Garner grasps that illness confers power on the afflicted. Whether or not the friend is destined to die, by the end you're ready to kill her.
The Two Kinds of Decay by Sarah Manguso (Picador, $14). At 21, Manguso was stricken with a rare autoimmune disease, whose treatment entailed the replacement of all her blood — an ordeal she underwent 50 times. A sharp, vivid, sometimes funny memoir.
Have the Men Had Enough? by Margaret Forster (Vintage $14). A family grows exasperated with a live-in grandmother's worsening dementia. Yet this selfless woman would be horrified to realize she's become a burden. Should they put Grandma in a home? This is a subject most novelists would cross the street to avoid, but it's one that's bullying into many lives these days, like it or not.
Everyman by Philip Roth (Vintage, $14). This elegant novel about an ailing, elderly man shimmers with the mysteries and regrets of a whole life. After the usual broken marriage and difficulties with grown kids, the protagonist's central failed relationship is with his own body. Unexpectedly moving, Everyman is about a treachery that awaits us all. Spouses may stay true, but bodies are universally faithless.
The Christmas Tree by Jennifer Johnston (Headline, $16). An exquisitely slight 1981 novel that lingers in the mind decades later. A terminally ill woman faces an early demise with frank acerbity, illustrating the advantage of lethal disease over abruptly getting run over by a bus: the opportunity to reflect and tie up little loose ends.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why ABC threw its Bachelor under the bus
- Why are so many elderly Asians killing themselves?
- Why Ted Cruz is the real-life Frank Underwood
- Why I'm sick and tired of seeing naked women on HBO
- Here's proof that Justin Bieber is just as spoiled as you always thought
- 22 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 4 easy ways to resolve life's toughest questions
- Here's how Iran is covering Russia's invasion of Crimea
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- Watch The Daily Show and Judge Andrew Napolitano play 'The Weakest Lincoln'
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