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Pulitzer Prize
2019
The Overstory
Book Jacket   Richard Powers
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780393635522 Standing as silent witnesses to our interweaving genealogies, cyclical wars, and collapsing empires, trees contain our collective history in addition to our climate record. Here, the acclaimed Powers (Orfeo; The Time of Our Singing) employs literary dendrochronology to weave the stories of nine strangers connected through their collective action in preventing a forest from falling to industrial harvesting and ruination. From a chestnut in Iowa to a banyan in Vietnam, trees function as a central theme for each character's backstory. As a corollary, foliage becomes a multivalent symbol of family struggle, divine intervention, and community. Just as Douglas firs connect their underground root structures to provide mutual support and protection, each character moves across disparate landscapes to find him- or herself joined in solidarity against an unstoppable force of environmental destruction. VERDICT Whereas Powers dissected the human brain's mysterious capacity to prescind subject from object in his National Book Award-winning The Echo Makers, here he pens a deep meditation on the irreparable psychic damage that manifests in our unmitigated separation from nature.-Joshua Finnell, Colgate Univ., Hamilton, NY © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780393635522 *Starred Review* Nick, an artist, grew up on a family farm in Iowa famous for its regal chestnut tree. Patricia, born in Ohio with speech and hearing problems, finds inspiration in the plant world, studies forestry, and makes a controversial discovery. Adam, a science-struck boy enamored of ants, ends up majoring in social psychology and focusing on people risking their lives for plants. Douglas' life is saved by a tree when his plane is shot down during the Vietnam War; he later joins a tree-planter squad, attempting to compensate for the ravages of clear-cut logging. Engineer Mimi's father, a Chinese immigrant who invented the earliest prototype for the cell phone, planted a mulberry tree in their backyard in Illinois. Neelay, another child of a brilliant immigrant parent, a pioneering computer designer in San Jose, takes to coding as a boy like a leaf to sunlight, and even though he loses the use of his legs after falling out an oak, trees inspire the nature-based virtual realms he creates, which make him a video-game game god. All of these magnetic characters, and others, are introduced separately in Roots ; they then converge in Trunk, Crown, and Seeds, each a section in MacArthur Fellow and National Book Award winnerPowers' twelfth novel, a magnificentsaga of lives aligned with the marvels of trees, the intricacy and bounty of forests, and their catastrophic destruction under the onslaught of humanity's ever-increasing population on our rapidly warming planet. A virtuoso at parallel narratives, concurrent micro and macro perspectives, and the meshing of feelings, facts, and ideas, Powers draws on his signature fascination with the consequences, intended and otherwise, of science and technology as he considers the paradox of our ongoing assaults against nature in spite of all the evidence indicating impending disasters. The gripping, many-branched drama that unfolds here is a grand inquiry into how our hubris and unrelenting consumption and decimation of natural resources drives environmental activists to enact extreme and dangerous forms of civil disobedience. Olivia, a college student in Boston is oblivious to trees until a freak accident leaves her receptive to strange beings of light who, as the year 1990 begins, induce her to pack up her car and start driving west. Olivia has no idea why she's on this mysterious journey until she sees television coverage of people forming a ring around an enormous tree in Solace, California. The presences tell her: The most wondrous products of four billion years of life need help. Olivia finds her way to Nick in Iowa, and when they reach California, the lovers, like the real-life tree-sitter Julia Butterfly Hill, ascend 200 feet off the ground to live for months on precarious platforms erected on an ancient, majestic redwood under siege by loggers. Another bond is forged when Douglas and Mimi's paths cross at an endangered grove of trees outside her high-rise Portland, Oregon, office. Adam's tree-hugger research also puts him on the scene as they all arrive at the same place. And once each either witnesses or is subjected to vicious attacks by enraged loggers and contemptuous law-enforcement agents, they join forces and embark on acts of what they define as ecotage (vandalizing equipment to sabotage logging operations) and which logging corporations and the authorities deem ecoterrorism. Meanwhile, Patricia writes Rachel Carson-style books about the complex interconnectedness and intelligence of forests that galvanize the world. But can anyone stop or even slow the devastation wrought by the relentless tide of human growth and need? Powers' sylvan tour de force is alive with gorgeous descriptions; continually surprising, often heartbreaking characters; complex suspense; unflinching scrutiny of pain; celebration of creativity and connection; and informed and expressive awe over the planet's life force and its countless and miraculous manifestations. Powers elevates ecofiction with this profound and symphonic novel even as he pays subtle tribute to the genre's defining title, Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975), which, in turn, inspired T. C. Boyle's ecowarrior tale, A Friend of the Earth (2000). The Overstory takes a crowning position on a list of earlier novels about trees and tree-huggers and about the terrible consequences of ecotage or ecoterrorism as well-meaning convictions precipitate calamities and crises of conscience. Diverse in voice and timbre, the list includes The Living, by Annie Dillard (1992); The Tree-Sitter, by Suzanne Matson (2006); The Cookbook Collector, by Allegra Goodman (2010); The Widower's Tale, by Julia Glass (2010); Barkskins, by Annie Proulx (2016); and At the Edge of the Orchard, by Tracy Chevalier (2016). Powers wants us to see trees and forests in verdant and exhilarating detail, and feel the despair of those who know the magnitude and significance of all that is being irrevocably lost as forests everywhere are destroyed. As we rip apart the forest'sgreen web, we immerse ourselves in the cyberweb. Powers wonders, Will data guide us in reversing our doomsday folly? Will stories help us fully perceive, cherish, and preserve life? The Overstory and its brethren seed awareness and hope.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2018 Booklist
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780393635522 Occupying the same thematic terrain as Annie Proulx's Barkskins, the latest from Powers (Orfeo) is an impassioned but unsatisfying paean to the wonder of trees. Set primarily on the West Coast, the story revolves around nine characters, separated by age and geography, whose "lives have long been connected, deep underground." Among these are a wheelchair-bound computer game designer; a scientist who uncovers the forest's hidden communication systems; a psychologist studying the personality types of environmental activists; and a young woman who, after being electrocuted, hears voices urging her to save old-growth forests from logging. All are seduced by the majesty of trees and express their arboreal love in different ways: through scholarship, activism, art, and even violent resistance. Some of the prose soars, as when a redwood trunk shoots upward in a "russet, leathery apotheosis," while some lands with a thud: "We're cashing in a billion years of planetary savings bonds and blowing it on assorted bling." Powers's best works are thrilling accounts of characters blossoming as they pursue their intellectual passions; here, few of the earnest figures come alive on the page. While it teems with people, information, and ideas, the novel feels curiously barren. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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2019
Amity and Prosperity
Book Jacket   Eliza Griswold
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780374103118 Fracking, the extraction of natural gas from rocks up to one mile deep, made some residents of the small, impoverished western Pennsylvania towns of Amity and Prosperity, rich, while others became victims of potentially fatal environmental hazards. Griswold (The Tenth Parallel) offers a compelling portrayal of Stacey Haney and her fight against fracking operation Range Resources, whose secretive activities unleashed airborne toxins and poisoned ponds that killed Haney's farm animals, sickened neighbors, and nearly took the life of her son, Harley. Deep research into court records and interviews with family members and neighbors, many of whom turned against Haney, a single mother and nurse, make for a compelling family tragedy narrative. Descriptions of the various individuals are memorable, although Griswold's recounting of Haney v. Range Resources (2013) gets bogged down in detail. This precedent-setting trial was not decided until 2018. -VERDICT An important addition to the emerging genre of works about fracking and its environmental and human costs. This will find large audiences among concerned citizens and warrants the attention of public officials as well as fans of J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy.-Karl Helicher, formerly with Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2019
The New Negro
 Jeffery C. Stewart
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780195089578 Stewart (Paul Robeson: Artist and Citizen) offers a detailed, definitive biography of Alain LeRoy Locke (1885-1954), the godfather of the Harlem Renaissance and all around "renaissance man in the finest sense... a man of sociology, art, philosophy, diplomacy, and the Black radical tradition." A Harvard graduate with a Ph.D. in philosophy, Locke became the first black Rhodes Scholar, studying in England and Germany; Stewart chronicles those travels as well as Locke's travels in Egypt, Haiti, and the Sudan. The book also explores Locke's personal life as a gay man who was attracted to the young intellectuals who inspired him, including sculptor Richmond Barthé and poet Langston Hughes. Stewart details Locke's misogyny toward writers Jessie Fauset and Zora Neale Hurston, as well as his complicated relationships with W.E.B. Du Bois and his Howard colleagues, who resented Locke's influence. Stewart creates a poignant portrait of a formidable yet flawed genius who navigated the cultural boundaries and barriers of his time while nurturing an enduring African-American intellectual movement. (Feb. 2018) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780195089578 *Starred Review* Stewart, professor of black studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, presents a definitive biography of an intellectual who philosophically helped shape the Harlem Renaissance, Alain Locke (1885-1954). Stewart writes about the direct and indirect influences Locke had on the lives of many writers and artists of that dynamic, world-changing era, including Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Richmond Barthé, and others. Stewart traces Locke's life, from his birth into a black bourgeoisie family struggling to hold onto its class standing and reputation to his formative years under the overprotective and dominating rigor of his mother to his years at Harvard, where he received his doctorate in philosophy. The first African American to be named a Rhodes Scholar, in 1907, Locke went on to study in Oxford, where Stewart describes Locke's first taste of academic failure. Stewart documents, with extensive use of primary sources, the highs and lows in Locke's life, his extensive world travels, his long professional teaching career at Howard University, and his personal life as a closeted homosexual. Those who love biographies or reading about important yet undercelebrated Americans will enjoy Stewart's comprehensive, richly contextualized portrait of a key writer, educator, philosopher, and supporter of the arts.--Jackson-Brown, Grace Copyright 2018 Booklist
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  Book Jacket
2018
Less
 Andrew Sean Greer
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780316316125 In Greer's wistful new novel, a middle-aged writer accepts literary invitations around the world-making his way from San Francisco to New York, Mexico, Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, and Japan-so that he will have an excuse not to attend the wedding of a long-time lover. Arthur Less is not known primarily for his own work but for his lengthy romantic association with a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, an older man who was married to a woman when their liaison began, and he believes himself to be the butt of many cosmic jokes and that he is "less than" in most equations. This is partially proven true, but not entirely. And even in Less's mediocrity, when aided by a certain amount of serendipity (and displayed by the author with ironic humor), he affects people. Greer (The Confessions of Max Tivoli), an O'Henry-winning author, writes beautifully, but his occasionally Faulknerian sentences are unnecessary. He is entirely successful, though, in the authorial sleights of hand that make the narrator fade into the background-only to have an identity revealed at the end in a wonderful surprise. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316316125 This hilarious and touching novel follows Arthur Less, a gay man, as he travels around the world in order to avoid attending the wedding of his former lover. The wedding invitation was the final realization for Arthur that he never should have broken up with Freddy, and as Arthur's 50th birthday approaches, he realizes he may be alone forever. Arthur is a novelist, and although his publisher turned down his latest work, he is engaged in literary activities such as receiving an award, speaking at a conference, and teaching writing in such locations as New York City, Mexico, and Germany. He also travels to Morocco and rides a camel out into the desert. All along the way, there are wacky scenes of wrong directions taken, comic misunderstandings, and language barriers left standing. VERDICT Greer (The Confessions of Max Tivoli; The Impossible Life of Greta Wells) is both clever and compassionate as he steers Arthur through this rough period in his life, and while the book focuses on gay men and their relationships, the search for love and meaning is universal. [See Prepub Alert, 1/28/17.]-James Coan, SUNY at Oneonta Lib. © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780316316125 *Starred Review* While such luminaries as Michael Chabon, Dave Eggers, and John Irving have praised Greer's previous novels, including The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells (2013), Less is perhaps his finest yet. It follows Arthur Less, a novelist whose longtime boyfriend is getting married. In order to avoid the ceremony, Less accepts invitations to all the literary events he has been invited to. The subsequent tale moves across not only space from San Francisco to New York, Mexico, Italy, Germany, France, India, and Japan but also time, as Less looks back at his life as he approaches his fiftieth birthday. Once on the periphery of an artistic movement, the Russian River School, and involved with one of the founders, Less now exploits this connection to enable his journey.Through numerous flashbacks, Greer signals his debt to Proust (something he shares with Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad, 2010) and paints a comic yet moving picture of an American abroad. As Greer explores Less' lovelorn memories, he also playfully mocks the often ludicrous nature of the publishing industry, as does Percival Everett in his acerbic Erasure (2001). Less is a wondrous achievement, deserving an even larger audience than Greer's best-selling The Confessions of Max Tivoli (2004).--Moran, Alexander Copyright 2010 Booklist
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  Book Jacket
 
2017
The Underground Railroad
Book Jacket   Colson Whitehead
2016
The Sympathizer
Book Jacket   Viet Thanh Nguyen
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780802123459 This astonishing first novel has at its core a lively, wry first-person narrator called the Captain, and his two school friends Bon and Man, as they navigate the fall of Saigon and the establishment of the Communist regime in Vietnam in 1975. The Captain is a half-Vietnamese double agent; he reports to his Communist minder Man who, unbeknownst to Bon, is a Republican assassin. The Captain and Bon make it on to one of the harrowing last flights out of Saigon as the city is overtaken by the Viet Cong. They travel with the Captain's superior, the General, and his family, although Bon's own wife and son are shot making their escape. The Vietnamese exiles settle uncomfortably in an America they believe has abandoned their country, as they are reduced to new roles as janitors, short-order cooks, and deliverymen. The General opens a liquor store, then a restaurant (in which his proud wife cooks the best pho outside Vietnam) as a front to raise money for a counter rebellion. In order to protect his identity as a spy, the Captain is forced to incriminate others, and as lines of loyalty and commitment blur, his values are compromised until they are worthless. Nguyen's novel enlivens debate about history and human nature, and his narrator has a poignant, often mirthful voice. Agent: Nat Sobel, Sobel Weber. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780802123459 Starred Review. Written as a postwar confessional, this novel begins with its nameless protagonist, a highly placed young aide to a general in the South Vietnamese army, recalling how he finalized the details of escape before the fall of Saigon. But our hero is a double agent, a communist sympathizer who will continue to feed information to the North even after he makes the harrowing escape with his loyalist friend Bon and the general's family on the last plane out, and becomes part of the Vietnamese refugee community in Southern California. Breathtakingly cynical, the novel has its hilarious moments; the reader will especially enjoy Nguyen's take on 1970s American life. To maintain his cover, our hero must become entangled in the general's underground resistance group, which plots a return to Vietnam through Cambodia, and the tale turns seriously dark. VERDICT Ultimately a meditation on war, political movements, America's imperialist role, the CIA, torture, loyalty, and one's personal identity, this is a powerful, thought-provoking work. It's hard to believe this effort, one of the best recent novels to cover the Vietnamese conflict from an Asian perspective, is a debut. This is right up there with Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke. [See Prepub Alert, 10/27/14.]-Reba Leiding, emeritus, James Madison Univ. Lib., Harrisonburg, VA (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780802123459 *Starred Review* Adept in the merciless art of interrogation, the nameless spy who narrates Nguyen's dark novel knows how to pry answers from the unwilling. Unexpectedly, however, this Vietnamese communist sympathizer finds himself being tortured by the very revolutionary zealots he has helped make victorious in Saigon. He responds to this torture by extending an intense self-interrogation already underway before his incarceration. The narrator thus plumbs his singular double-mindedness by reliving his turbulent life as the bastard son of a French priest and a devout Asian mother. Haunted by a faith he no longer accepts, insecure in the communist ideology he has embraced, the spy sweeps a vision sharpened by disillusionment across the tangled individual psyches of those close to him a friend, a lover, a comrade and into the warped motives of the imperialists and ideologues governing the world he must navigate. In an antiheroic trajectory that takes him from Vietnam during the war to the U.S. and then back, Nguyen's cross-grained protagonist exposes the hidden costs in both countries of America's tragic Asian misadventure. Nguyen's probing literary art illuminates how Americans failed in their political and military attempt to remake Vietnam but then succeeded spectacularly in shrouding their failure in Hollywood distortions. Compelling and profoundly unsettling.--Christensen, Bryce Copyright 2015 Booklist
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2015
All the Light We Cannot See
 Anthony Doerr
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781476746586 *Starred Review* A novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned, Doerr's magnificently drawn story seems at once spacious and tightly composed. It rests, historically, during the occupation of France during WWII, but brief chapters told in alternating voices give the overall and long ­narrative a swift movement through time and events. We have two main characters, each one on opposite sides in the conflagration that is destroying Europe. Marie-Louise is a sightless girl who lived with her father in Paris before the occupation; he was a master locksmith for the Museum of Natural History. When German forces necessitate abandonment of the city, Marie-Louise's father, taking with him the museum's greatest treasure, removes himself and his daughter and eventually arrives at his uncle's house in the coastal city of Saint-Malo. Young German soldier Werner is sent to Saint-Malo to track Resistance activity there, and eventually, and inevitably, Marie-Louise's and Werner's paths cross. It is through their individual and intertwined tales that Doerr masterfully and knowledgeably re-creates the deprived civilian conditions of war-torn France and the strictly controlled lives of the military occupiers.High-Demand Backstory: A multipronged marketing campaign will make the author's many fans aware of his newest book, and extensive review coverage is bound to enlist many new fans.--Hooper, Brad Copyright 2014 Booklist
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781476746586 Shifting among multiple viewpoints but focusing mostly on blind French teenager Marie-Laure and Werner, a brilliant German soldier just a few years older than she, this novel has the physical and emotional heft of a masterpiece. The main protagonists are brave, sensitive, and intellectually curious, and in another time they might have been a couple. But they are on opposite sides of the horrors of World War II, and their fates ultimately collide in connection with the radio-a means of resistance for the Allies and just one more avenue of annihilation for the Nazis. Set mostly in the final year of the war but moving back to the 1930s and forward to the present, the novel presents two characters so interesting and sympathetic that readers will keep turning the pages hoping for an impossibly happy ending. Marie-Laure and Werner both suffer crushing losses and struggle to survive with dignity amid Hitler's swath of cruelty and destruction. VERDICT -Doerr (The Shell Collector) has received multiple honors for his fiction, including four O. Henry Prizes and the New York Public Library's Young Lions Award. His latest is highly recommended for fans of Michael Ondaatje's similarly haunting The English Patient.-Evelyn Beck, Piedmont Technical Coll., Greenwood, SC (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781476746586 In 1944, the U.S. Air Force bombed the Nazi-occupied French coastal town of St. Malo. Doerr (Memory Wall) starts his story just before the bombing, then goes back to 1934 to describe two childhoods: those of Werner and Marie-Laure. We meet Werner as a tow-headed German orphan whose math skills earn him a place in an elite Nazi training school-saving him from a life in the mines, but forcing him to continually choose between opportunity and morality. Marie-Laure is blind and grows up in Paris, where her father is a locksmith for the Museum of Natural History, until the fall of Paris forces them to St. Malo, the home of Marie-Laure's eccentric great-uncle, who, along with his longtime housekeeper, joins the Resistance. Doerr throws in a possibly cursed sapphire and the Nazi gemologist searching for it, and weaves in radio, German propaganda, coded partisan messages, scientific facts, and Jules Verne. Eventually, the bombs fall, and the characters' paths converge, before diverging in the long aftermath that is the rest of the 20th century. If a book's success can be measured by its ability to move readers and the number of memorable characters it has, Story Prize-winner Doerr's novel triumphs on both counts. Along the way, he convinces readers that new stories can still be told about this well-trod period, and that war-despite its desperation, cruelty, and harrowing moral choices-cannot negate the pleasures of the world. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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  Book Jacket
2014
The Goldfinch: A Novel
 Donna Tartt
  Book Jacket
 
2013
The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel
Book Jacket   Adam Johnson
2011
A Visit from the Goon Squad
Book Jacket   Jennifer Egan
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780307592835 Time changes both everything and nothing in this novel about former punk rocker-turned-music executive Bennie Salazar and Sasha, his indispensable secretary with an unhappy past. A host of characters from San Francisco's 1970s music scene collide in ways that are hard to summarize, with peripheral characters in one chapter more fully developed in others. These well-defined characters and the engaging narrative are hallmarks of Egan's earlier fiction, which include Look at Me, a National Book Award finalist, and the best-selling The Keep. Here, we learn that power is transient, authenticity is not all it's cracked up to be, and friendships are often fragile, but the connections among people matter terribly. Often, we survive the self-destructive tendencies of youth only to realize that we've just exchanged one set of problems for another. Verdict In the end, this novel does offer hope, but it is the grubby kind that keeps you going once you've been kicked to the curb. Readers will enjoy seeing the disparate elements of this novel come full circle. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/10.]-Gwen Vredevoogd, Marymount Univ., Arlington, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780307592835 Readers will be pleased to discover that the star-crossed marriage of lucid prose and expertly deployed postmodern switcheroos that helped shoot Egan to the top of the genre-bending new school is alive in well in this graceful yet wild novel. We begin in contemporaryish New York with kleptomaniac Sasha and her boss, rising music producer Bennie Salazar, before flashing back, with Bennie, to the glory days of Bay Area punk rock, and eventually forward, with Sasha, to a settled life. By then, Egan has accrued tertiary characters, like Scotty Hausmann, Bennie's one-time bandmate who all but dropped out of society, and Alex, who goes on a date with Sasha and later witnesses the future of the music industry. Egan's overarching concerns are about how rebellion ages, influence corrupts, habits turn to addictions, and lifelong friendships fluctuate and turn. Or as one character asks, "How did I go from being a rock star to being a fat fuck no one cares about?" Egan answers the question elegantly, though not straight on, as this powerful novel chronicles how and why we change, even as the song stays the same. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780307592835 *Starred Review* Egan is a writer of cunning subtlety, embedding within the risky endeavors of seductively complicated characters a curious bending of time and escalation of technology's covert impact. Following her diabolically clever The Keep (2006), Egan tracks the members of a San Francisco punk band and their hangers-on over the decades as they wander out into the wider, bewildering world. Kleptomaniac Sasha survives the underworld of Naples, Italy. Her boss, New York music producer Bennie Salazar, is miserable in the suburbs, where his tattooed wife, Stephanie, sneaks off to play tennis with Republicans. Obese former rock-star Bosco wants Stephanie to help him with a Suicide Tour, while her all-powerful publicist boss eventually falls so low she takes a job rehabilitating the public image of a genocidal dictator. These are just a few of the faltering searchers in Egan's hilarious, melancholy, enrapturing, unnerving, and piercingly beautiful mosaic of a novel. As episodes surge forward and back in time, from the spitting aggression of a late-1970s punk-rock club to the obedient, socially networked herd gathered at the Footprint, Manhattan's 9/11 site 20 years after the attack, Egan evinces an acute sensitivity to the black holes of shame and despair and to the remote-control power of the gadgets that are reordering our world.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist
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2010
Tinkers
 Paul Harding
  Book Jacket
2009
Olive Kitteridge:
 Elizabeth Strout
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781400062089 *Starred Review* Hell. We're always alone. Born alone. Die alone, says Olive Kitteridge, redoubtable seventh-grade math teacher in Crosby, Maine. Anyone who gets in Olive's way had better watch out, for she crashes unapologetically through life like an emotional storm trooper. She forces her husband, Henry, the town pharmacist, into tactical retreat; and she drives her beloved son, Christopher, across the country and into therapy. But appalling though Olive can be, Strout  manages to make her deeply human and even sympathetic, as are all of the characters in this novel in stories. Covering a period of 30-odd years, most of the stories (several of which were previously published in the New Yorker and other magazines) feature Olive as  their focus, but in some she is bit player or even a footnote while other characters take center stage to sort through their own fears and insecurities. Though loneliness and loss haunt these pages, Strout also supplies gentle humor and a nourishing dose of hope. People are sustained by the rhythms of ordinary life and the natural wonders of coastal Maine, and even Olive is sometimes caught off guard by life's baffling beauty. Strout is also the author of the well-received Amy and Isabelle (1999) and Abide with Me (2006).--Quinn, Mary Ellen Copyright 2008 Booklist
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781400062089 In her third novel, New York Times best-selling author Strout (Abide with Me) tracks Olive Kitteridge's adult life through 13 linked stories. Olive-a wife, mother, and retired teacher-lives in the small coastal town of Crosby, ME. A large, hulking woman with a relentlessly unpleasant personality, Olive intimidates generations of community members with her quick, cruel condemnations of those around her-including her gentle, optimistic, and devoted husband, Henry, and her son, Christopher, who, as an adult, flees the suffocating vortex of his mother's displeasure. Strout offers a fair amount of relief from Olive's mean cloud in her treatment of the lives of the other townsfolk. With the deft, piercing shorthand that is her short story-telling trademark, she takes readers below the surface of deceptive small-town ordinariness to expose the human condition in all its suffering and sadness. Even when Olive is kept in the background of some of the tales, her influence is apparent. Readers will have to decide for themselves whether it's worth the ride to the last few pages to witness Olive's slide into something resembling insight. For larger libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/07.]-Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781400062089 Thirteen linked tales from Strout (Abide with Me, etc.) present a heart-wrenching, penetrating portrait of ordinary coastal Mainers living lives of quiet grief intermingled with flashes of human connection. The opening "Pharmacy" focuses on terse, dry junior high-school teacher Olive Kitteridge and her gregarious pharmacist husband, Henry, both of whom have survived the loss of a psychologically damaged parent, and both of whom suffer painful attractions to co-workers. Their son, Christopher, takes center stage in "A Little Burst," which describes his wedding in humorous, somewhat disturbing detail, and in "Security," where Olive, in her 70s, visits Christopher and his family in New York. Strout's fiction showcases her ability to reveal through familiar details-the mother-of-the-groom's wedding dress, a grandmother's disapproving observations of how her grandchildren are raised-the seeds of tragedy. Themes of suicide, depression, bad communication, aging and love, run through these stories, none more vivid or touching than "Incoming Tide," where Olive chats with former student Kevin Coulson as they watch waitress Patty Howe by the seashore, all three struggling with their own misgivings about life. Like this story, the collection is easy to read and impossible to forget. Its literary craft and emotional power will surprise readers unfamiliar with Strout. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781400062089 Olive is her small Maine town's heart and soul-and its interfering tyrant. With an eight-plus-city tour; book club promotion. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781400062089 In 13 linked stories that delineate the life and times of fussy but sympathetic Olive Kitteredge, Strout beautifully captures the sticky little issues of small-town life-and the entire universe of human longing, dis-appointment, and love. (LJ 2/1/08) (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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  Book Jacket
 
2008
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Book Jacket   Junot Diaz
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781594489587 Having caught everyone's attention with his short stories, D!az offers a debut novel starring ghetto geek Oscar, whose family labors under a Fuk# (or curse) that delivers prison, tragic accidents, and, worst of all, bad luck in love. With a national tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781594489587 "*Starred Review* Díaz's gutsy short story collection Drown (1996) made the young Dominican American a literary star. Readers who have had to wait a decade for his first novel are now spectacularly rewarded. Paralleling his own experiences growing up in the Dominican Republic and New Jersey, he has choreographed a family saga at once sanguinary and sexy that confronts the horrific brutality at loose during the reign of the dictator Trujillo. Díaz's besieged characters look to the supernatural for explanations and hope, from fukú, the curse unleashed when Europeans arrived on Hispaniola, to the forces dramatized in the works of science fiction and fantasy so beloved by the chubby ghetto nerd Oscar Wao, the brilliantly realized boy of conscience at the center of this whirlwind tale. Writing in a combustible mix of slang and lyricism, Díaz loops back and forth in time and place, generating sly and lascivious humor in counterpoint to tyranny and sorrow. And his characters Oscar, the hopeless romantic; Lola, his no-nonsense sister; their heartbroken mother; and the irresistible homeboy narrator cling to life with the magical strength of superheroes, yet how vibrantly human they are. Propelled by compassion, Díaz's novel is intrepid and radiant."--"Seaman, Donna" Copyright 2007 Booklist
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781594489587 Matthew Sharpe is the author of the novels Jamestown and The Sleeping Father. He teaches at Wesleyan University. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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2007
The Road
Book Jacket   Cormac McCarthy
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780307265432 Violence, in McCarthy's postapocalyptic tour de force, has been visited worldwide in the form of a "long shear of light and then a series of low concussions" that leaves cities and forests burned, birds and fish dead and the earth shrouded in gray clouds of ash. In this landscape, an unnamed man and his young son journey down a road to get to the sea. (The man's wife, who gave birth to the boy after calamity struck, has killed herself.) They carry blankets and scavenged food in a shopping cart, and the man is armed with a revolver loaded with his last two bullets. Beyond the ever-present possibility of starvation lies the threat of roving bands of cannibalistic thugs. The man assures the boy that the two of them are "good guys," but from the way his father treats other stray survivors the boy sees that his father has turned into an amoral survivalist, tenuously attached to the morality of the past by his fierce love for his son. McCarthy establishes himself here as the closest thing in American literature to an Old Testament prophet, trolling the blackest registers of human emotion to create a haunting and grim novel about civilization's slow death after the power goes out. 250,000 announced first printing; BOMC main selection. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780307265432 Winner of the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, McCarthy (All the Pretty Horses) here offers a prescient account of a man and his son trying to survive in a devastated country where food is scarce and everyone has become a scavenger. The term survival of the fittest rings true here-very few people remain, and friends are extinct. Essentially, this is a story about nature vs. nurture, commitment and promises, and though there aren't many characters, there is abundant life in the prose. We are reminded how McCarthy has mastered the world outside of our domestic and social circles, with each description reading as if he had pulled a scene from the landscape and pasted it in the book. He uses metaphors the way some writers use punctuation, sprinkling them about with an artist's eye, showing us that literature from the heart still exists. Recommended for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/06.]-Stephen Morrow, Columbus, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780307265432 New territory for McCarthy: a postapocalyptic landscape where readers meet a man who recalls a better world and a boy who doesn't. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780307265432 A man and a boy, father and son, each the other's world entire, walk a road in the ashes of the late world. In this stunning departure from his previous work, McCarthy ( No Country for Old Men, 2005) envisions a postapocalyptic scenario. Cities have been destroyed, plants and animals have died, and few humans survive. The sun is hidden by ash, and it is winter. With every scrap of food looted, many of the living have turned to cannibalism. The man and the boy plod toward the sea. The man remembers the world before; as his memories die, so, too dies that world. The boy was born after everything changed. The man, dying, has a fierce paternal love and will to survive--yet he saves his last two bullets for himself and his son. Although the holocaust is never explained, this is the kind of grim warning that leads to nightmares. Its spare, precise language is rich with other explorations, too: hope in the face of hopelessness, the ephemeral nature of our existence, the vanishing worlds we all carry within us. McCarthy evokes Beckett, using repetition and negation to crushing effect, showing us by their absence the things we will miss. Hypnotic and haunting, relentlessly dark, this is a novel to read in late-night solitude. Though the focus never leaves the two travelers, they carry our humanity, and we can't help but feel the world hangs in the balance of their hopeless quest. A masterpiece. --Keir Graff Copyright 2006 Booklist
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2006
March
 Geraldine Brooks
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2005
Gilead: A Novel
 Marilynne Robinson
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780375869259 Gr 5-8-Thirteen-year-old Georgie Burkhardt can shoot better than anyone in Placid, Wisconsin. She can handle accounts and serve customers in her family's general store. What she can't do is accept that the unrecognizable body wearing her older sister's blue-green gown is Agatha. Determined to discover what happened after Agatha abruptly left town with a group of pigeoners, Georgie sets out to follow her route. In return for the loan of a mule, she reluctantly allows Billy McCabe, one of Agatha's suitors, to accompany her. The journey includes a menacing cougar and ruthless counterfeiters, but Georgie's narration offers more than action-packed adventure. She unravels the tangle of events that led to Agatha's sudden departure and acknowledges her own role. By turns humorous and reflective, Georgie's unique and honest voice includes confusion about her feelings for Billy and doubts about her ability to kill even in desperate circumstances. Timberlake seamlessly integrates information about two significant events that occurred in Wisconsin in 1871: the largest recorded nesting of passenger pigeons in spring and devastating firestorms in fall. Georgie's physical and emotional odyssey that occurs between those two events will linger in readers' minds.-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780375869259 To find out what really happened to her purportedly dead sister, sharpshooting 13-year-old Georgie Burkhardt and her sister's one-time suitor Billy McCabe follow the trail of pigeon hunters and discover far worse going on near Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871. Georgie tells her story in a first-person narrative that rings true to the time and place. She is smart, determined, and not a little blind to the machinations of adults around her, including Billy, who has been sent by Georgie's storekeeper grandfather to follow her and keep her safe. She does notice that Billy is well made, but this is no love story; it's a story of acceptance, by Georgie, her family, and her small town. Timberlake weaves in the largest passenger pigeon nesting ever seen in North America, drought and fatal fires along Lake Michigan that year, a currency crisis that spawned counterfeiters, and advice on prairie travel from an actual handbook from the times. Historical fiction and mystery combine to make this a compelling adventure, and an afterword helps disentangle facts from fiction.--Isaacs, Kathleen Copyright 2010 Booklist
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