Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Themes of Family, Struggle in National Book Awards

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Themes of Family, Struggle in National Book Awards

Article excerpt

Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey: Poems 1991-1995

By Hayden Carruth

Copper Canyon Press 101 pp., $14 An American Requiem: God, My Father, and the War that Came Between Us By James Carroll Houghton Mifflin 279 pp., $23.95 Ship Fever: And Other Stories By Andrea Barrett W.W. Norton 254 pp., $21 Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida By Victor Martinze HarperCollin 216 pp., $14.89 The 46th annual National Book Awards were conferred last week in New York to authors in four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and for the first time, Young People's Literature. The selections, based on the opinion of judges appointed by the National Book Foundation, are considered the most outstanding American works written in the past year. The Monitor offers a brief review of each winner. Nonfiction James Carroll, a columnist and much-published author, has written an impassioned memoir that works well at three different levels. An American Requiem: God, My Father, and the War that Came Between Us is first a classic account of growing up as a Roman Catholic in the 1950s and '60s. Carroll examines all the tensions that entailed: to be part of - yet apart from - American society as a whole; to hanker for personal freedom and fulfillment while dealing with hierarchy and authority; and somehow to find stability and belief in a religion swept by change. Though filled with doubts, Carroll studied for the priesthood and was ordained, but then left it in 1975. The book also presents a young man's shift from the middle-class conventions of his parents toward a different perspective influenced by an era of free thinking, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War. Finally, it portrays an intense, troubled father-son relationship between Carroll and his distant father, an Air Force lieutenant-general and head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. - Leonard Bushkoff Fiction Andrea Barrett, in Ship Fever And Other Stories, offers a consistent theme in her methodically crisp style: discovering after the fact what the facts really are. It's much like reading the diary of an aunt who really knew the family secrets. You can't put it down. …

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