10. Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife by Francine Prose
read in August 2009
The sole non-fiction book in this year's bunch (I've mentioned I'm more of a fiction reader and it shows...) this book takes a new, thorough and fascinating look at Anne Frank. Many of us read her diary. If you were like me you were fascinated by this eloquent and smart girl and all she went through. In this new literary criticism, Francine Prose makes the case for Anne as a writer and her diary as a work of fiction. According to Prose she is more than a moody teen her diary is more than a wartime relic and Holocaust account. She also looks at the life of the diary, how it came to be published, and how it has lived on in classrooms, hearts and minds alike in many countries since its publication. The English major in me loved the painstaking analysis of what came to be three versions of Anne's diary all mashed into one. The publishing professional loved the tidbits about American publication and all in all I was fascinated by this new take. Perhaps you will be too.
9. The Ballad of West Tenth Street by Marjorie Kernan
read in February 2009
A good friend thrust this book in my hands almost a year ago and I can still remember reading it while riding the Subway and walking along the freezing New York streets imagining the book's characters in residence in the West Village area. This is where rock 'n' roll widow, her precotious kids, an elderly man and his waitstaff, an eccentric music teacher and his naive wife and a homeless man who broke my heart on every page live. Their stories are woven together and true to the title, Kernan crafts a ballad of NYC proportions. This book made me love this city even more. Full of eclectic characters as well as simple yet endearing and heartbreaking moments, this book was a wonderful surprise and a great portrait of New York.
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