Ides of March? Stay Home, Read a Book
We all know betrayal, probably both as often the betrayer as the betrayed, so in honor of the day most known for betrayal, maybe it's best to stay at home, in bed...did you make sure the doors were locked?
Edwin Mullhouse: the life and death of an American Writer, 1943-1954 by Jeffrey Cartwright - Steven Millhauser
Steven Millhauser's brilliant first novel is called Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer 1943-1954, by Jeffrey Cartwright. In the book, Edwin, an artistic genius, dead at the age of 11, is immortalized in this book by his lifelong friend Jeffrey. This satire of biographies also serves as an unerring chronicle of childhood — not just Edwin's, but our own. It's easy to forget, as a grown-up, that there was a time when almost everything about the world felt new, but Millhauser's sparkling language, dark wit and razor-sharp observations rekindle childhood's mayfly intensity. Jeffrey's chronicle of the doomed Edwin reminds us of childhood's passionate, obsessive friendships and cruel heartbreaks; its steely rivalries; and — yes — its ultimate, crushing betrayals, often at the hands of the people we love most.
Invitation to a Beheading - Vladimir Nabokov
Next, we go to prison. In Invitation to a Beheading, poor Cincinnatus C has been jailed for gnostical turpitude, a crime he understands no more than you do. His execution date is pending, but unknown; he spends his final days being acted upon by people and forces that are sometimes cruel, sometimes surreal and constantly hilarious, with Vladimir Nabokov misleading you at every turn in a way that will leave you hungry for more. Imagine Alice in Wonderland set in a prison constructed by Kafka, where visitors appear and disappear with Cheshire Cat-like regularity, and reprieve is always a glance and an eternity away. Whatever you do, don't read the book jacket — it gives away the story's best surprise and most breathtaking betrayal of all.
Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids - Kenzaburo Oe
An anonymous Japanese village in an unnamed time of war is the setting for Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe's first novel Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids, which he wrote after WWII. A group of juvenile delinquents is evacuated to the countryside, only to be abandoned by the villagers there. What follows is a sort of inverse Lord of the Flies, in which the boys try to live with honor despite their depravations, only to be betrayed first by a plague sweeping through the village, and then by the villagers' return. Oe's gaze is unflinching as he invokes a time short on compassion or friendship. This spare, affecting story provides a unique window into a time when many Japanese still felt misled and betrayed by their country, posing compelling questions about loyalty, generosity, and the simultaneous fragility and strength of the human spirit.