President Obama is at it again: Reading like some sort of nerd. He’s in Martha’s Vineyard for his annual August vacation, and besides making cell phone reception better, 44 bought a couple of books at the Bunch of Grapes bookstore in Vineyard Haven. It is a tradition to pick apart and over-analyze what the president is reading, so we will make gross generalizations and assumptions about the five titles he selected for his trip. Grade Z literary theory and Pseudo-psychology after the jump!
Rodin’s Debutante by Ward Just
What Publishers Weekly says:
In Ward’s solid 17th novel, a boy comes of age in mid-20th-century Chicago and tries to find a way to create art in the face of the world’s harshness. Lee Goodell, an adventurous youngster, lives in New Jesper, a quiet town on the outskirts of Chicago where his father and a cabal of influential locals act as a well-meaning protectorate of the town.
What it really means: Cabal of influential Chicago locals, huh? This is an ACORN handbook!
The Bayou Trilogy by Daniel Woodrell
What the St. Louis Dispatch says:
Woodrell writes drolly and pungently of rednecks and swamp rats with the affection and exasperation of a man who has spent his life among them … The Bayou Trilogy stands with the best crime fiction of its period.
What it really means: Obama, feeling he is losing the swamp rat vote, desperately searches Woodrell’s collection for advice on how to win back their trust. It’s a waste of time, however, as nothing but live bait will convince them at the polls.
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
What Publishers Weekly says:
Lauded for his sensitive memoir (My Own Country) about his time as a doctor in eastern Tennessee at the onset of the AIDS epidemic in the 80s, Verghese turns his formidable talents to fiction, mining his own life and experiences in a magnificent, sweeping novel that moves from India to Ethiopia to an inner-city hospital in New York City over decades and generations.
What it really means: Scenes in the inner-city hospital take place in the maternity ward and provide invaluable descriptions on what an authentic American birth certificate looks like.
To the End of the Land by David Grossman
What Amazon.com says:
To the End of the Land is a book of mourning for those not dead, a mother’s lament for life during a wartime that has no end in sight. At the same time, it’s joyously and almost painfully alive, full to the point of rupture with the emotions and the endless quotidian details of a few deeply imagined lives. Ora, the Israeli mother in Grossman’s story, is surrounded by men: Ilan and Avram, friends and lovers who form with her a love triangle whose intimacies and alliances fit no familiar shape, and their sons Adam and Ofer, one for each father, from whom Ora feels her separation like a wound.
What it really means: It has a pretty cover.
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
What the New York Times says:
Based on more than a thousand interviews, written in broad imaginative strokes, this book, at 622 pages, is something of an anomaly in today’s shrinking world of nonfiction publishing: a narrative epic rigorous enough to impress all but the crankiest of scholars, yet so immensely readable as to land the author a future place on Oprah’s couch.
What it really means: Oprah!
Obama’s summer reading list [Politico]