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Fourth of July reads: 10 novels with fireworks

Posted by Delia Cabe  June 29, 2011 02:20 PM

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Independence Day, with its parties, family reunions, vacation plans, beach barbecues and heat, has provided wonderful plot fodder for many novelists.

Whether your Fourth of July plans are low key or include the usual celebrations, you might want to escape for awhile to a hammock and disappear in the pages of any of these novels (alphabetized by author) in which our national holiday plays a part.


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First Light by Charles Baxter opens on the Fourth of July, when the main characters are adults, and then takes you back in time.

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The Truth of the Matter by Robb Forman Dew. Dew, a Southerner by birth, makes her home in Williamstown, Mass. She wrote a guest post, "Why I Never Write about the South," on literary blogger Maud Newton's site.

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Independence Day by Richard Ford, which is set the weekend of July 4, was the first novel to win a Pulitzer Prize and a PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Ford was interviewed on PBS about this novel.

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Liberty: A Lake Woebegon Novel by Garrison Keillor. Not my cup of tea, but this New York Times reviewer liked it.

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Ferris Beach and July 7th by Jill McCorkle Okay, so the latter novel takes place a few days after the 4th of July, but you'll enjoy it nonetheless. McCorkle is a good storyteller and sprinkles in some wit.

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Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates, the plot of which may sound familiar: A young woman meets a tipsy senator at a Fourth of July party, only the locale is an island off Maine. But before you start thinking "Chappaquiddick, here's what Oates said about her novella when it was published: "I wanted the story to be somewhat mythical, the almost archetypal experience of a young woman who trusts an older man and whose trust is violated," according to the New York Times.

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State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, which was published this month, has been lauded by many reviewers and readers, including this one.

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4th of July (Woman’s Murder Club Series) by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro: To see whether this unsolved murder mystery is for you, you can read an excerpt here.

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Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff, who was the screenwriter for TV series “Dawson’s Creek,” but don’t let that turn you off. Read the review or download an excerpt.

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Here's novelist Ann Patchett discussing her latest book, State of Wonder:


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About the author

Delia Cabe's work has appeared in The Boston Globe Magazine, Boston Magazine, Self, Prevention, Scientific American Presents, and other publications. In between posts, you can read Cabe's tweets at http://twitter.com/#!/DeliaCabe, More »

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