When Mark Shriver's father died last year at the age of 95, it seemed that everyone who knew him — politicians, priests, waitresses, presidents and trash collectors — used the same phrase to tell him what they had thought of his father. He was "a good man."
A Good Man is also the title of Shriver's new memoir about his father, R. Sargent Shriver. The elder Shriver, who once ran for president, ran the War on Poverty, the Peace Corps, Job Corps and the Special Olympics. On top of that, he was U.S. ambassador to France and married into the Kennedy family.
Head to the bookstore or pick up your Nook or Kindle or iPad, and prepare, if you will, to make some decisions about your summer reading life. My suggestions this year tend to be fine new fiction, the kind that not only flows on the page but also makes a sort of music in your mind. So, wordmusic it is! Strike up the orchestra! It's going to be a big summer for big broad American literary voices, voices that leap from the page and linger with you, echo through your summer and perhaps even beyond.
Ah, the family getaway. All of you together in one space — maybe a cabin in the mountains or a beach house. Delightful family meals, maybe some Scrabble. A time of togetherness and familial harmony.
That is decidedly not the kind of family vacation writer Mark Haddon draws inspiration from. In his latest novel, The Red House, Haddon peers inside the messy dynamics of a group of relatives, each grappling with their own fears and trying to make sense of themselves as a family, all while stuck in a vacation house in the remote English countryside.