definitely it will be on my best of 2006 list, Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos. It's funny, I don't often read novels about love (in order, I am definitely more likely at any given moment to be reading about murder, depression, suicidal teenagers, twisted sex, the eighteenth century, the future, magic, dragons, etc. etc. with love coming about fourteenth on the list well after sport and substance abuse), but as soon as I read something about this one and sampled the first chapter online I could see it was exactly what I would like. Even though really noir is the literature of my heart it is occasionally good for the health to read a life-affirming book with really endearing and good characters and a heartwarming ending. Also this one is beautifully well-written, the author is a poet as well as a novelist & the attention to language shows in the best possible way. The first-person voice of the main character is particularly well-done. (The opening paragraph: "My life—my real life—started when a man walked into it, a handsome stranger in a perfectly cut suit, and, yes, I know how that sounds. My friend Linny would snort and convey the kind of multipronged disgust I rely on her to convey. One prong of feminist disgust at the whole idea of a man changing a woman’s life, even though, as things turned out, the man himself was more the harbinger of change than the change itself. Another prong of disgust for the inaccuracy of saying my life began after thirty-one years of living it. And the final prong being a kind of general disgust for the way people turn moments in their lives into movie moments.")
I have now forgotten where I first saw mention of this book, surely it was either The Lipstick Chronicles or else Joshilyn Jackson's very funny blog (and this novel definitely has an air of Jackson's also-very-appealing gods in Alabama). It's got even more of the feel of Eva Ibbotson, whose novels I adore with unmatched fervor. I picked a copy of Love Walked In up (that's picked up in my hands, not picked up in the metaphorical shopping sense) a week or two ago at the Harvard Bookstore and put it down again with some reluctance feeling it to be an unjustified extravagance to buy a hardcover novel I would read in a couple hours. Then last night, unexpectedly free after my Boswell-related engagement evaporated at the last minute, I realized that I was under a mysterious and on the whole unstoppable compulsion to go and buy things at Porter Square Books. The Harvard Book Store is my favorite bookstore ever, I have loved that store ever since I was a literary-theory-and-Pynchon-obsessed maniacal seventeen-year-old, but the Porter Square one really nicely complements it and is a particularly good one to go to if you are wanting really thoughtfully chosen fiction esp. on the fantasy/young-adult end. (And now is a good time to stop by and buy something, horrifyingly an SUV crashed through the front of the store this weekend which must have been quite awful.) And I couldn't resist this second time round, it had been lingering with me as an obscure object of desire.
Also en route I saw Becca and her daughter waiting for the bus, and we had a very satisfactory conversation about matters literary and un-. (There is an E. L. Konigsberg zeitgeist thing going on right now.) So it was all good.