Book Recommendation: The Heart Does Not Grow Back

By Michael Nye

Around this time every year, the Best Books of the Year lists get released. With new titles this year from Haruki Murakami, David Mitchell, Roxane Gay, Emily St. John Mandel, Joshua Ferris, Leslie Jamison, Ha Jin, Lydia Millet, and so many others, your Christmas list should be pretty easy to fill out. I’m usually pretty behind with reading current titles (“current” to me is probably 2011), but there is one book that has just come out that I’m over the moon about: Fred Venturini’s new novel “The Heart Does Not Grow Back”

I’ll admit: I’m completely biased. I wrote about Fred on this blog about three years ago, a piece that was about how I fell into teaching at an university level and why I’ve stayed with it. I’ll keep my sentimentality to a minimum here, but I’m really happy for my former student who is now a great friend, and I’m thrilled with the terrific publicity his work has received, including a review in the New York Times this week. And they dug it! Here’s a snippet of their review:

The writing is joyous, but the dark side of life — fathers who beat their sons, mothers who die of cancer — gives depth to the comedy. Dale’s voice is refreshing, his strange power of regeneration and the aftermath of fame and fortune expertly rendered. “The Heart Does Not Grow Back” is an exciting, thoroughly enjoyable ride, hitting the perfect spot of strange and bittersweet.

I’ve ordered my copy, and head straight to my mailbox as soon as I get home from work. With a little luck, I’ll make it to one of Fred’s readings soon, where we will, undoubtedly, spend more time talking about the Bears and the Cubs than we will about book promotion. Go snag a copy of his book! I promise it’ll be worth your reading time.

Follow Michael on Twitter: @mpnye