Great House, by Nicole Krauss
I did it! I read a modern novel that has been on my wishlist for over a year! I've actually had it checked out from the library for far too long, a ridiculously long time.
Great House contains the stories of several different people, connected only by an old wooden desk with many drawers. (Actually, even that much is not always clear.) Each of these people tells--or, more accurately, confesses--a life story, and the desk comes to take on a weight and meaning. As the pattern of the book emerges, we see that all of these people are very alone, having lost the ones who loved them, and the desk holds all that loss and sadness.
It's a really good book, but very melancholy. I read it with great interest, which is a little surprising to me since I don't normally go for modern fiction all that much.
I want to read a happy book now!