Picks from our General Manager, Lyn.
Chanelle Benz is a shapeshifter, a time traveller, an heir to Flannery O'Connor, a sculptor of language, and a writer to watch. Her debut collection of short stories is wildly imaginative and varied, with contemporary stories, a western, "Adela," a purported found tale from 1829 with scholarly footnotes, and another told by a bookseller and former monk in the sixteenth century. All, like "The Mourners," from which the title comes, are dark but still manage to zap the reader with little electrical jolts of surprise. There are no happy endings and none are truly innocent, but the stories are a sign that the future of American literature is bright.
The 2014 winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature delivers her first adult novel in twenty years. Drawing on her past, shared with us in her memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, Woodson transports the reader to Another Brooklyn. The Brooklyn of the 1970s, before hipsters and gentrification, when revolution and desperation was in the air. Four adolescent girls ban together in their friendship to protect each other from an unsympathetic world. Together they are beautiful and strong and nothing can touch them. But they can’t stay together forever and as they seek their way out, the spell protecting them is broken. This deceptively slim volume contains a powerful story. As a poet, Ms. Woodson has crafted Another Brooklyn so that each word and sentence is weighted and balanced so as to convey the wilderness that is girlhood.
Following the Civil War, Captain Kidd, no longer a young man, travels the countryside reading to audiences the news of the world from newspapers. Offered fifty dollars to transport an orphaned young girl to her relatives—a seemingly easy task. But she had been kidnapped and adopted by Kiowa at a young age, forgotten English, and had no desire to be cooperative. Reminiscent of True Grit, characters come alive in this elegant novel.
Like the 1950s television program, THIS IS YOUR LIFE, HARRIET CHANCE! flashes back on moments in the now 78-year life of Harriet Chance from toddler to widowhood. With quirky and sharp humor, Jonathan Evison, author of WEST OF HERE and THE REVISED FUNDAMENTALS OF CAREGIVING, examines life and love and family in a kind and forgiving way without glossing over the rotten patches. Sherman Alexie named him “the most honest white man alive,” and we would add one of the most empathetic.
Ove's life and everything in it is punctual, tidy and in perfect working order. But without his wife he has nothing to live for and decides to fix it with as little as possible. Unfortunately, he keeps getting interrupted by his neighbors and their chaotic, messy lives. A little Scrooge, a little Archie Bunker and a lot of heart. Funny and touching.
Madeleine is a jazz singer, has an impressive command of profane language, is recently motherless, and is nine years old. Her teacher, Miss Greene, is going to a dinner party where she’ll be reunited with high school friends and her prom date. Max Lorca, the owner of the Cat’s Pajamas, a famous jazz club, is trying to come up with cash to cover fines for a long list of violations. These and other characters move on their improvised and syncopated paths toward the early morning.
Understanding that her more delicate husband would never survive the Civil War, Constance Thompson takes up the moniker Ash, disquises herself as a man and joins the Union army in his stead. Inspired by true stories of women who wore blue and gray, readers should not dismiss Neverhome as one novel among many. War is an inexhaustible setting for writers, so near death as to make every facet of life available to explore, but this story is told by someone who is dressed as and must act as a man, but sees through the eyes of a woman. Neverhome is an eloquent and potent novel.
After a famous mathematician’s death, her colleagues and rivals from all over the world gather along with the family to sit shiva and honor her memory. As the narrator remarks, it is a mistake to think that math is about numbers, and mathematicians are a passionate, contentious, and ambitious lot. Certain that the late Rachela Karnokovitch has solved the Navier-Stokes problem and taken the solution to her grave, the group looks for clues under floorboards, interrogates her pet parrot, and searches the house. Readers, whether they have an appreciation of mathematics or not, will appreciate the love, family, and beauty of this novel.
What if you could take English Literature from one of the best writers in the modern world? Borges, in these brilliant lectures, makes English Literature live. This book is guaranteed to rekindle your passion and deepen your understanding, all the while being entertaining, for English Literature.
Set in post-war Paris, the city is teeming with scheming CIA agents, Russian spies, ancient and ageless witches, along with the usual writers and courteans. A murder brings an earnest police inspector into the mix and he is intent on unraveling the mystery, even after he has been changed into a flea.
I didn't think this book could possibly live up to the hype but it really is a delightful read. A reminder that life has a funny way of turning around and working out but not the way we'd planned. Fans of Guernsey Literary and Major Pettigrew will especially enjoy.
Categorized as "Nature" this little volume defies categorization. It is simply a delight to read. Whimsical and thoughtful. Fanciful and factual Sparkling sentences that trip along like a mountain brook in spring.
An instant classic. This debut novel will not be forgotten in five years like so many. Like much of the best English literature, an orphan boy, Ren, is central to the story. Ren is released from an orphanage into the care of his "long-lost brother". Brother or not, Benjamin Nob is a con man and a rogue. Ren is about to get an education in the ways of scoundrels.
I often give To Bless The Space Between Us as a wedding gift. It is a life companion -- offering blessings for those beginning a new life, those grieving, or just in need of comfort. A companion for times of joy and sorrow.
Moe Berg played professional baseball in the 1920s and 30s. Not the greatest player, he was definitely the smartest, and possibly the most peculiar. A polyglot who studied at Princeton, Columbia, and the Sorbonne, he did work for the Oss, the precursor to the CIA. A fascinating read for biography fans and baseball fans, but an enthusiasm for the sport is not required to enjoy it.
If Forest Gump had been a vodka drinker...Allan Karlsson is 100 and tired of being treated like a child so he leaves the home and sets off like a modern day Candide. Just the novel to pick you up on a bleak Winter's eve. Swedes aren't all about dragon tattoos.
The octopus is an incredibly complicated and fascinating animal. Highly intelligent, their brains work in an entirely different manner than ours. Filled with information delivered in a highly readable format, this book is a reminder about how much of our world we still have to learn about.
First published in 1965, Stoner is a quiet, but nonetheless powerful novel about a professor in a small college town. Stoic, but not without his passions, Stoner's is the journey of self discovery. When asked in an interview if literature was written to be entertaining: "Absolutely. My God, to read without joy is stupid."
Bradon Venderkool—6'8", dyslexic and socially inept. Living just across the border from British Columbia, thinking it would be a step up from the family dairy farm, his father has pushed him into working for the US Border Patrol. With a very special connection to the natural world and keen observational skills, he is surprisingly good at his job. No matter that he hates it. You'll love him.