Arts & Culture

Book Reviews: August 2016

Latest books from Matthew Norman and Dan Fesperman.

We’re All Damaged

By Matthew Norman (Little A)

Perhaps many of us can relate to the feeling that arrives when we reach our 30s and realize we aren’t as, um, successful as we’d like. That’s the case for Andy Carter, who’s fresh off a divorce, working as a bartender in New York, but heading back to his Nebraska hometown to say goodbye to his dying grandfather. He’s forced to examine his relationship with his talk-show host mother, checked-out father, and estranged best friend, and along the way meets a free-spirited woman who helps assess his life (which felt a tad too much like the whole manic-pixie-dream-girl phenomenon). The latest from Baltimore resident Norman is funny, bittersweet, and relatable.

The Letter Writer

By Dan Fesperman (Alfred A. Knopf)

What’s most impressive about Fesperman’s work is his level of detail. In a few expertly crafted sentences, he transports the reader into the midst of turmoil and keeps them intrigued—never mind that he’s writing about the secretive, unfamiliar world of New York police in the 1940s. Fesperman, a former Sun reporter who is an acclaimed spy novelist, introduces us to two seemingly disparate characters—a police detective transplanted from the South, and a mysterious man who works as a letter writer and interpreter—who find themselves connected by a murder. Their story is riveting and will have you flying through the pages.