Ivy Pochoda’s Visitation Street has quickly become a fast-moving bestseller. Named one of Barnes & Noble’s Best Books of 2013… So Far, it’s a tale of friends ominously entwined by a mysterious disappearance on the East River waterfront separating the Red Hook section of Brooklyn from glimmering Manhattan. Pochoda’s deft noir has captivated critics with its ring-of-truth characterization and suspenseful twists and turns. This week, the Brooklyn native shares thoughts on three of her own favorite reads of recent memory, suggesting the varied tastes and influences behind her own intriguing fiction.
Pafko at the Wall
By Don DeLillo
“I keep coming back to Don DeLillo’s novella, which later became the prologue to his magnum opus, Underworld. As a former professional athlete (who never managed to articulate how my sport was sometimes a microcosm of my life) I love how DeLillo channels his impressions of post–World War II America and the threat of nuclear war through Bobby Thomson’s legendary 1951 pennant-clinching home run. He telescopes massive global anxiety into New York City’s ‘strangulated rapture’ as this season-ending game unfolds, taking the reader around the stadium, into the broadcast booth, out over rooftops, and into private homes. Then DeLillo masterfully narrows this panorama to pinpoint, a moment so fine and slight — ‘the stay in time that lasts a hairsbreath’ — as Bobby Thomson takes a chin-high pitch and hits it into the lower deck.”
By Charles Dickens
“I am embarrassed by how long it took me to pick up Bleak House. I was daunted by both the size and slightly put off by the title. I mean, bleak? Come on. Yet there is more delight on each page than in almost any other book I’ve read. The devious Tulkinghorn, poor Mr. Guppy, and imperious Lady Dedlock! Bleak House is juicy social novel, a mystery, a tale of redemption. Although the plot may be complex, the invention, wit, and, of course, the secrets — a Dickensian specialty — are so riveting that at nearly 900 pages I still wish Bleak House were longer.”
By Denis Johnson
“I know I’m not alone in my obsession with the hallucinatory poetry of Johnson’s collection of interconnected stories. This book grabbed me by the throat and dragged me through a malignant and fascinating last-chance world on the fringe of society. There’s a precision to Johnson’s writing that allows the reader to identify with even his most debased scenarios. These stories of addiction and loneliness will rip your heart out on one page and then tantalize you with a pinprick of hope on the text.”