Staff picks by Bill.
Lauren Groff evokes the Greek classics and creates a modern tragedy of her own. The story of Lotto and Mathilde's marriage is intricate, involved, and enthralling, suffused with false perception, deception, and twists of fate both random and intentional. Yet it is also a love story and a discourse on the elusive nature of relationships and the relativity of truth. What it also is, is a modern classic.
Three disparate individuals, a white man, an escaped slave and a Native American, are on the run together in colonial America. Their flight and subsequent hunt for them is the basis for a powerful novel that brilliantly examines the uniquely American concept of freedom and the often dispossessed people who helped its development. Readers can’t help being immersed in the story and intrigued by the strong concepts inherent in this unique novel.
An intricate novel that surely draws together three disparate societies and their interlocking characters. It is thoughtful, provocative and playful as it artfully blends science fiction, fantasy and suspense to create a story that is grand entertainment.
Helen Oyeyemi creates a phantasmagorical universe in this collection. Each story opens a new world of wonder. The tone can be playful but there is always an underlying current of darkness that is essential to every great fairy tale. Employing deft characterization and plots of great fantasy, she delivers a biting, satiric commentary on modern society and human behavior that will only enhance a reputation of being one of the true young stars of literature.
This sprawling novel with its many interlocking characters, which culminates in the New York City blackout of 1977, moves back and forth in time and will be compared to the work of Donna Tartt and Tom Wolfe but owes much to the socially conscious European books of the 19th century. The many broken protagonists reflect a society in deep decay but there are always slivers of hope and goodness that foretell a brighter future. Readers will be advised to take a week off to immerse themselves.
Throughout history the horror of war has ironically created beautiful literature. The latest entry to that canon is Michael Pitre’s Fives and Twenty-Fives, a mesmerizing debut set during Iraq War and its aftermath... This novel will rightfully take its place next to Matterhorn and Yellow Birds in the realm of modern combat literature.
Greg Iles continues the sage begun in Natchez Burning and the pace is just as relentless and exciting. He is a master of suspense and action and keeps the reader riveted while juggling his separate story lines. And followers of the series should be warned the author throws in at least two shocking events that never would have been expected and will only whet the appetite for his third and concluding volume next year.
An escaped slave joins a minstrel show in Philadelphia, providing the framework for a beautiful fictional examination of a society fated to resolve its differences through conflict. Told from various viewpoints, Tom Piazza has created a portrait both painful and poignant of a world and its citizens caught in the throes of the ultimate moral dilemma.
The Cold War is now consigned to history but many generations can still remember a time when the threat of nuclear war was considerable and there was always the possibility of a true Armageddon. Robert Service has drawn on the astonishing documentation that has become available since the fall of the Soviet Union to present a taut account of how the efforts of statesmen on both sides were able to finally consign the total nuclear threat to oblivion.
John Williams was a major force in fiction for a decade, regarded in the same light as luminaries such as Bellow, Roth, and Updike. His novel of politics and corruption in ancient Rome was relevant in 1972 and remains today as a fictional study of how power always becomes a destructive force.
This is an incredible story of exploration and survival set in the 19th century Arctic and meticulously documented. The hardships and obstaces endured are almost beyond the comprehension and the tenacity of the men involved is inspiring. It is a historical account that is both exhilirating and heartrending.
Eric Foner is the greatest historian of Reconstruction, an era few know and fewer understand. Yet the decade following the Civil War set the path this country has followed and suffered through to the present day. There is no more definitive history of this most crucial period in American history.
One of the truly great debuts of the past decade. It has been called Hamlet in Wisconsin but is really a story that can fit any period with its examination of human passion and conflict. And, as a bonus for dog lovers, the greatest canine character since Old Yeller.
An absolutely seminal work of cultural history. David Hackett Fischer explodes many myths as he explores the legacy of English culture upon the development of the American way of life.