Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Five best: fiction of broken hearts

Sally Ryder Brady, a writer, agent, teacher, and editor, is the author of a highly successful novel, Instar, an illustrated book of adult humor called Sweet Memories, and the non-fiction, A Yankee Christmas, Volumes I and II. Her latest book is the memoir A Box of Darkness: The Story of a Marriage.

One title from her five best list of fiction of broken hearts, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
The Last Day
by James Landis (2009)

There is not a drop of religiosity in this gripping, memoir-like novel, though there is a character whom the book's narrator, Warren, a former Army sniper, identifies as Jesus. Back home in New England after a combat stint in Iraq, Warren spends his first night on the beach, "my mind dark as night." In the glare of the rising sun, he sees a man approach as if walking on water. "Call me Ray," he says to Warren. They've never met, yet talk is easy between them. Jesus/Ray—in jeans, T-shirt and Timberland boots—is the kind of guy you want to hang out with; he knows a lot; he's droll; he's full of new ideas. They set out together to visit the people most important to Warren, people he hasn't seen since his Iraq posting. Memories unfurl with each encounter: with his father, his best friend, his beloved Bethie and their young daughter. He also experiences apocalyptic flashbacks to Iraq. Ray/Jesus unobtrusively helps Warren see his past and present in the redemptive and heartbreaking rediscovery of his own short life.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue