Alice Sebold and Glen David Gold recommend A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes (New York Review, $12.95) and Embers by Sandor Marai (Knopf, $21).
We read differently. Glen finishes about one in five books he starts. This drives Alice, who feels a moral imperative to finish a book, crazy. However, should Glen actually finish a book, she recognizes that it’s got to be pretty gripping. Books that we both read have to give us a reason to turn every single page. Alice has always loved A High Wind in Jamaica, a story about not-so-innocent children being taken hostage by not-so-evil pirates, and Glen has just become a convert: It’s an adventure, a psychological deconstruction of childhood innocence, a fever dream, a laugh-out-loud comedy, and there are also Captain Blood-style fight scenes.
During a car trip, Glen drove and Alice read all of Embers aloud. The story is beautifully sparse: An old general sits in front of the fireplace with a…friend whom he hasn’t seen since a mysterious event 41 years beforehand. And as the fire rages, then dies, they unwrap…the mystery of a subtle but devastating betrayal. It’s impossible to believe, but it makes nailing down every ambiguity of every small gesture remembered decades later suspenseful and thrilling. We actually drove an extra 20 miles just so Alice could finish it.
Alice Sebold is the author of The Lovely Bones. Her husband, Glen David Gold, is the author of Carter Beats the Devil.