Fiction reads on our radar | WORLD
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Fiction reads on our radar

BOOKS | Reviews of four new titles

Fiction reads on our radar
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Joseph O’Neill
(Pantheon 2024)

Mark Wolfe’s self-involved life takes a turn when he gets an urgent call from his estranged half-brother Geoff, a freeloading 20-something with an accent like David Beckham. Geoff enlists Mark’s help in tracking down Godwin, a soccer prodigy who lives somewhere in Africa. While finding Godwin is the central plot, the book focuses more on how Mark discovers a world outside of his own mind. Soccer enthusiasts will get a kick out of the various odes to the sport, but even readers without much of an interest in soccer will delight in O’Neill’s excellent prose and circuitous train of thought. Although O’Neill seems to lean to the political left, he’s as critical of the liberal intelligentsia as he is of right-wingers. Excessive foul language made some of the otherwise excellent passages sound a bit ­juvenile. —B.M.

The Singularity

Dino Buzzati
(New York Review Books 2024)

The Singularity was first published in 1960 by Italian novelist Dino Buzzati and is now available in a fresh translation from Anne Milano Appel. The story follows pro­fessor Ermanno Ismani and his wife Elisa as they travel to a top-secret facility to meet Endriade, the architect of an artificially intelligent “body.” The goal? Nothing less than recreating that elusive thing called consciousness, or “soul.” The machine is based on the personality of Endriade’s deceased wife Laura, but his effort is in vain. “On the whole it was her,” he tells Elisa, who happened to know Laura, but “something was still missing.” The effort to rebuild a woman’s soul ends up with a mangled collection of wires and towers that transmits the likeness, but not the essence, of the image of God. —P.B.

Camino Ghosts

John Grisham
(Doubleday 2024)

Lovely Jackson is the only living descendant of the slaves that once lived on Dark Isle, where the Tidal Breeze corporation wants to build a flashy resort complex. Lovely claims that Dark Isle belongs to her and files a lawsuit. When author Mercer Mann hears about Lovely’s story, she decides to write about it. Mercer learns the troubling history of Dark Isle and the voodoo curse that still shrouds it. No white man has ever set foot on the island and lived to tell about it. The David and Goliath–like story reads more like a courtroom drama than a typical thriller, but it includes a good bit of bad language. The characters have worldly views of sexuality, and a lesbian couple has a very minor role. In the end, it’s hard to tell whether Lovely is motivated to seek justice or retribution. —B.M.

Beautiful Days

Zach Williams
(Doubleday 2024)

This book of short stories is not cheerful, but it has a kind of shimmering quality that matches the collection’s bright title. I didn’t like all of the stories (most have explicit language and a couple involve sexual material), but a few of them shone. “Golf Cart,” the story of a young man who returns to his family farm and goes on a stakeout with his brother, includes moments of strange beauty. The brothers spot something moving in the field, “a broad-chested buck, its left antler broken and jagged in the moonlight, and a lissome doe. For one solemn instant they appraised us, coats sheening.” The stories explore modern characters with inconsolable pains and longings. And the reader, like the old tour guide in the con­cluding story, is bid by Williams to perform a simple but difficult task: “Look.” —P.B.

Bekah McCallum

Bekah is a reviewer, reporter, and editorial assistant at WORLD. She is a graduate of World Journalism Institute and Anderson University.


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