Things the Grandchildren Should Know by Mark Oliver Everett, a Virginian turned Californian, leader of the indie-rock band Eels, and the son of the quantum physicist Hugh Everett, is a memoir for the ages.
Surreal, yet precise and believable, his prose is ordinary and at the same time unique. He writes from memory, having never kept a diary. He is unable to pinpoint real events in time, but the feelings engendered by those events are virtually current, and fresh. The writing kept stopping me - as in "Did I just read that?"
Reviewer invocations on the jacket of Solzhenitsyn and Vonnegut made me suspicious of hyperbole - it is not, in this case. Deep with feeling, rich with description, the reader will be thinking about this one for a long time to come. Devastating. Enjoy.
My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq ($25.95 hardbound) is by Ariel Sabar. Jews were a presence in Kurdistan, the semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq until the early 1950s, when most immigrated to Israel. Yona Sabar, the "Father" of the title was among them. Since then, he has become a linguist at UCLA, steadfastly dedicated to the preservation of the ancient language of Aramaic, and the culture in which he grew up. Ariel Sabar is a journalist, attempting to find, and connect to, what remains of his father's roots. The quest is a real journey. Populated with deeply colorful characters, this is a book of classic contrasts of both period and location. There is powerful emotion and prose here well worth the effort. Enjoy.
Review by Alex