Also of interest ... experiments in living
The Sabbath World by Judith Shulevitz; So Much for That by Lionel Shriver; Dog Boy by Eva Hornung; The Husbands and Wives Club by Laurie Abraham
The Sabbath World by Judith Shulevitz (Random House, $26)It probably takes a person raised outside Sabbath traditions to long for those traditions’ revival, said Rebecca Newberger Goldstein in The New York Times. Author Judith Shulevitz “is nothing if not ambivalent,” but her own longing for powerful customs and a weekly day of rest are the heart of this rich and moving study “of all things Sabbath.” In one aside, she confides that the reason she values rituals is that they mark through ceremony the “ungovernable reality” that is God.
So Much for That by Lionel Shriver (Harper, $26)“This is the rare novel that will shake and change you,” said Ron Charles in The Washington Post. Lionel Shriver “has a merciless streak,” and she’s used it this time to toss harrowing diseases at a handful of characters so we can watch them rage at a culture and a health-care system that do them no good. If you can stomach this story’s grisly details, “its anger is infectious.” Health care isn’t fixed, Shriver tells us, when every day families are going broke to extend their loved ones’ agony.Dog Boy by Eva Hornung (Viking, $26)Re-imagining the true story of a Moscow boy raised by a pack of feral dogs, Australian writer Eva Hornung has created a novel that will “break your heart,” said Korina Lopez in USA Today. Hornung uses “careful, sparse detail” to convey the innocence of the boy as he wanders away from a broken family and into a canine world. This strange tale’s early spell is broken when a pair of scientists takes over the narrative, but mostly, this is “a wonderfully written, haunting read.”
The Husbands and Wives Club by Laurie Abraham (Simon & Schuster, $25)The troubles that send married couples into group therapy turn out to be fairly mundane, said Pamela Paul in The New York Times. Journalist Laurie Abraham spent a year sitting in on one such group’s six-hour sessions, and she proves both an able explainer and a patient listener. Unfortunately, she “has fallen in with a rather dull lot.” These couples’ petty resentments are all too familiar, and even those come out in a slow trickle. “Where, oh where, are the screamers and stompers?”