The first book is Luke and Jon by Robert Williams. It's now available in paperback for only £6.99 which is a bargain. It's one of those books that was originally marketed as Young Adult and is now Adult Fiction. (It's fairly meaningless but when I read it I certainly didn't feel I was reading a children's book, equally I thought that my 13 year old boys may enjoy it. Dylan has just begun it though he's a little wary in case it's too sad as I told him it was about a boy whose mum died.)
Anyway, the story is about a 13 year old boy and his relationships with his father, in the wake of his mother's death, and his friend Jon. It's not a showy book but it's full of calm, quiet truths. I'm not over keen on the phrase deceptively simple but, erm, yeah, this is. Williams creates a wonderful voice and a story with proper depth. He's good at capturing the difficulties of being a lad at school, and he's written a novel with real heart. Oh, and it totally sucked me in and toyed with my emotions. Yes, I may have shed a tear or two.
"Eventually I got surer on my feet and looked up to see what was overhead. It was a trick I learned from my mum. She said that every now and again, walking your usual route through town or to school, you should look up as you travelled instead of straight ahead, that you would see things you hadn't seen before. And she was right. The first time I walked through our old town and lifted my head up I saw things I'd never noticed in a town I'd lived in all my life. In the forest the trees stretched high and higher into the sky, disappearing out of sight and there was only the odd glimpse of sky poking through the canopy. It felt like we were indoors; it reminded me of the church on the day of mum's funeral: ancient and powerful."
The second book is Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower Oh my goodness, if you're a short story fan and haven't yet read this collection then I envy you, for you must, you shall, and it will be fabulous.
Wells Tower describes things in a gorgeously fresh way. His stories are drenched in images and unique perfect phrases. I am deeply envious of his talent. (The worst story, oddly, is the title story. It's absolute tosh and a real let down that is the last thing one reads. How strange.)
"He scrambled along the spit of rock. The wind cut the stagnant dampness of the day and dried the sweat on his face and chest. He took the salt into his lungs and savored the pure itch in his chest. He touched the long grasses waving in the water like women's hair. He crouched to observe the barnacles, their tiny feathery hands combing blindly for invisible prey."
So, there ya go - two good books (coincidentally both with brownish covers.)