During my months of silence, I've read a few more books:
#393 The Life of Pi, Yann Martel
A meta-narrative on story-telling, this book makes the incredible fabulously credible. But I couldn't help thinking that the work was designed for post-college reading circles, with "study questions" in the back, and a plot strewn with obvious symbolism and life-affirming messages.
#392 Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides
A massive, flowing cultural history of the United States as an immigrant nation, but also a statement on gender, national, cultural ambiguity. Jeffrey Eugenides' prose is somehow both excessively exuberant and precise in metaphor, characterization, and insight.