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Pulitzer Prize
2019
The Overstory
Book Jacket   Richard Powers
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Powers' (Orfeo, 2014, etc.) 12th novel is a masterpiece of operatic proportions, involving nine central characters and more than half a century of American life.In this work, Powers takes on the subject of nature, or our relationship to nature, as filtered through the lens of environmental activism, although at its heart the book is after more existential concerns. As is the case with much of Powers' fiction, it takes shape slowlyfirst in a pastiche of narratives establishing the characters (a psychologist, an undergraduate who died briefly but was revived, a paraplegic computer game designer, a homeless vet), and then in the kaleidoscopic ways these individuals come together and break apart. "We all travel the Milky Way together, trees and men," Powers writes, quoting the naturalist John Muir. "In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks." The idea is important because what Powers means to explore is a sense of how we become who we are, individually and collectively, and our responsibility to the planet and to ourselves. Nick, for instance, continues a project begun by his grandfather to take repeated photographs of a single chestnut tree, "one a month for seventy-six years." Pat, a visionary botanist, discovers how trees communicate with one another only to be discredited and then, a generation later, reaffirmed. What links the characters is survivalthe survival of both trees and human beings. The bulk of the action unfolds during the timber wars of the late 1990s, as the characters coalesce on the Pacific coast to save old-growth sequoia from logging concerns. For Powers, however, political or environmental activism becomes a filter through which to consider the connectedness of all thingsnot only the human lives he portrays in often painfully intricate dimensions, but also the biosphere, both virtual and natural. "The world starts here," Powers insists. "This is the merest beginning. Life can do anything. You have no idea."A magnificent achievement: a novel that is, by turns, both optimistic and fatalistic, idealistic without being nave. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780374103118 *Starred Review* The names Amity and Prosperity conjure up images of tranquility and abundance, and, indeed, historically, the good life was found within these southwestern Pennsylvania towns. Where once coal was king, now hydraulic fracking rules the day, with mining companies competing for rights to drill into the Marcellus Shale's abundant natural-gas reserves. Along with other landowners, single-mother Stacey Haney wrestled with her conscience before signing a lease with Range Resources to drill on her land. She was working multiple jobs to raise two teens and running a farm on her own, so the promised windfall would have been welcome. But when her son manifests a series of inexplicable ailments and farm animals unexpectedly die, Haney painstakingly traces the source of the illnesses back to the water and air pollution generated by the fracking sites. Stonewalled by the mining company, shunned by her community, Haney only finds hope and help with a husband-and-wife legal team willing to take on this powerful adversary. Griswold's (The Tenth Parallel, 2010) empathetic yet analytical account of Haney's indefatigable role as advocate for justice is a thorough and thoroughly blood-pressure-­raising account of the greed and fraud embedded in the environmentally ruinous natural-gas industry. As honest and unvarnished an account of the human cost of corporate corruption as one will find.--Haggas, Carol Copyright 2010 Booklist
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.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Griswold (The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam, 2010, etc.) immerses herself with a few Pennsylvania families in rural areas near Pittsburgh to chronicle their life-threatening battles against the fracking industry.To extract natural gas deposits from deep within the ground, giant energy companies employ processes and chemicals that can disseminate dangerous substances into drinking water sources and into the air. The author, an extraordinarily versatile wordsmith as a poet, translator, and journalist, visited a region of Pennsylvania that had become a fracking crossroads. At a meeting of concerned citizens receiving payments for fracking on their land but angry about unforeseen environmental degradation, Griswold met Stacey Haney. A lifelong citizen of Amitynear the nearly depopulated town of ProsperityHaney, a nurse, has been worried that harmful elements from the fracking process have yielded chronic illnesses in herself and her children. Neither Haney nor most of her neighbors wanted to become social activists (many of them usually vote Republican and support Donald Trump). However, the increasing financial debt of the citizens from both towns, combined with the puzzling chronic ailments, led them to hire a team of lawyers to craft a court challenge or at least force the state's environmental protection agency to halt fracking operations of for-profit corporations. Because no scientific consensus has emerged about the societal benefits versus the public health hazards of fracking, the Haneys, as well as the other plaintiffs, worry that they will never prevail on technical grounds. Surprisingly, several Pennsylvania courts ruled against the fracking industry, but the Haneys and other plaintiffs received little in the way of tangible benefits. As the author inserts herself into the narrative about one-third of the way through, she becomes a character with apparent sympathies for the individual plaintiffs and their hardworking lawyers, but her reporting is, for the most part, evenhanded.A solid addition to the burgeoning literature on the social and health-related effects of fracking. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2019
The New Negro
 Jeffery C. Stewart
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A magisterial biography of the 20th-century philosopher, curator, and prime mover of the Harlem Renaissance.Alain Locke (1885-1954) is a criticaland complexfigure in any discussion of African-American intellectual history. In his youth, he was the quintessential black Victorian, impeccably dressed and mannered, as if comportment alone could conquer racism. That posturing made him blinkered at times; he tried to deny the prejudice he experienced as a Rhodes scholar and would later submit to a wealthy patron's condescending celebration of black "primitivism" for the sake of financial support. But Locke also wrote forcefully about the value of black artists and advocated strongly for writers like Jean Toomer and Langston Hughes. He edited the landmark 1925 issue of Survey Graphic, which put Harlem on the map as black America's artistic center, argued for black artists' central place in American culture in his selections for the book The New Negro, and curated African art exhibits that persuasively fitted that work within modernism. Stewart (Black Studies/Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; Paul Robeson: Artist and Citizen, 1998, etc.) often frames his subject's life as a series of one-on-one conflicts: with his mother, whose apron strings he found hard to untangle himself from; with more vocal black activists like W.E.B. Du Bois, who wanted more from a racial movement than Locke's oft-aloof aestheticism; with institutions like Howard University, which had a hot-and-cold relationship with him; and with the lovers the closeted gay, peripatetic Locke endlessly pursued, not to mention writers like Hughes who rejected his advances. This hefty, deeply researched book is sometimes overwhelming in its detail about Lockeevery letter he wrote seems to be quotedbut it brilliantly doubles as a history of the philosophical debates that girded black artistic triumphs early in the 20th century.A sweeping biography that gets deep into not just the man, but the movements he supported, resisted, and inspired. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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
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.
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.
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
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781549118715 Arthur Less is, well...considerably less, now that he's middle-aged, alone, and pretty much broke. The pinnacle of his novel-writing career might have been his first New York Times review, which while "good" assigned him an epithet that would haunt (taunt?) him in the decades since: "magniloquent spoony." His partner at the time, an older, revered Pulitzer-winning poet, had to explain: "Arthur.he's just calling you a faggot." Well, then. Now that he's about to turn 50, Arthur decides he can't witness the nuptials of his (still adored) younger lover and avoids the event by piecing together an around-the-world "ramshackle itinerary" of book-related gigs and a short teaching stint. Of course, transformations prove inevitable. Narrator Robert Petkoff takes Arthur's journeys in well-synced stride, adapting easily-for the most part-among countries and languages, although he occasionally stumbles in Asia with Hindi (dhoti becomes dotty) and Japanese (ryokan gets an extra syllable with ri-yoh-kan). Minor quibbles aside, Petkoff exudes Arthur's irresistibility-a combination of still-boyish naïveté, distracted haplessness, aging disappointment, and unassuming charm. VERDICT Surely Greer's Pulitzer boost has escalated demand; multiplatform accessibility seems a must for all libraries. ["Greer is both clever and compassionate...and while the book focuses on gay men and their relationships, the search for love and meaning is universal": LJ 6/15/17 starred review of the Little, Brown hc.]-Terry Hong, -Smithsonian BookDragon, -Washington, DC © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Facing his erstwhile boyfriend's wedding to another man, his 50th birthday, and his publisher's rejection of his latest manuscript, a miserable midlist novelist heads for the airport.When it comes to the literary canon, Arthur Less knows he is "as superfluous as the extra a in quaalude," but he does get the odd invitationto interview a more successful author, to receive an obscure prize, to tour French provincial libraries, that sort of thing. So rather than stay in San Francisco and be humiliated when his younger man of nine years' standing marries someone else (he can't bear to attend, nor can he bear to stay home), he puts together a patchwork busman's holiday that will take him to Paris, Morocco, Berlin, Southern India, and Japan. Of course, anything that can go wrong doesfrom falling out a window to having his favorite suit eaten by a stray dog, and as far as Less runs, he will not escape the fact that he really did lose the love of his life. Meanwhile, there's no way to stop that dreaded birthday, which he sees as the definitive end of a rather extended youth: "It's like the last day in a foreign country. You finally figure out where to get coffee, and drinks, and a good steak. And then you have to leave. And you won't ever be back." Yet even this conversation occurs in the midst of a make-out session with a handsome Spanish stranger on a balcony at a party in Parishinting that there may be steaks and coffee on the other side. Upping the tension of this literary picaresque is the fact that the story is told by a mysterious narrator whose identity and role in Less' future is not revealed until the final pages. Seasoned novelist Greer (The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, 2013, etc.) clearly knows whereof he speaks and has lived to joke about it. Nonstop puns on the character's surname aside, this is a very funny and occasionally wise book. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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  Book Jacket
 
2017
The Underground Railroad
Book Jacket   Colson Whitehead
2016
The Sympathizer
Book Jacket   Viet Thanh Nguyen
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A closely written novel of after-the-war Vietnam, when all that was solid melted into air.As Graham Greene and Robert Stone have taught us, on the streets of Saigon, nothing is as it seems. The racist suppositions of the empires of old helped shape a culture of subterfuge; not for nothing does the hero of Nguyen's (English and American Studies/Univ. of Southern Calif.) debut give a small disquisition on the meaning of being Eurasian or Amerasian ("a small nation could be founded from the tropical offspring of the American GI"), and not for nothing does a book meaningfully called Asian Communism and the Oriental Mode of Destruction play a part in the proceedings. Nguyen's protagonist tells us from the very first, in a call-me-Ishmael moment, that he's a mole: "I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces." Two faces, two races, neither wholly trusted. Our hero is attached to the command of a no-nonsense South Vietnamese general who's airlifted out at the fall of Saigon in 1975, protected by dewy Americans "with not a hint of a needle track in the crooks of their arms or a whiff of marijuana in their pressed, jungle-free fatigues"; whisked stateside, where the protagonist once spent time absorbing Americanness, the general is at the center of a potent community of exiles whom the protagonist is charged with spying onthough it turns out he's as much observed as observer. Think Alan Furst meets Elmore Leonard, and you'll capture Nguyen at his most surreal, our hero attempting to impress upon a Hollywood hopeful that American and Vietnamese screams sound different: "I was on my first assignment as a lieutenant," he recalls, "and could not figure out a way to save the man from my captain wrapping a strand of rusted barbed wire around his throat, the necklace tight enough so that each time he swallowed, the wire tickled his Adam's apple." Both chilling and funny, and a worthy addition to the library of first-rate novels about the Vietnam War. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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
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 9781442375420 Broadway actor Appelman delivers a moving performance in the audio edition of Doerr's beautiful WWII novel. The story shifts back and forth in time, and alternates between the perspectives of two protagonists, Marie-Laure-a blind French girl whose locksmith father builds models of the city to help her adapt to her surroundings-and Werner Pfennig, a German orphan who is separated from his sister, Jutta, when he's called to work for the Nazis as an engineer. The stories are both involving in their own right, as we track how the peaceful lives of a father/daughter and brother/sister are slowly disrupted by the rise of the Nazis. Reader Appelman helps convey the emotional tension of each scene with dialogue that is devastatingly moving, and his portrayal of Marie-Laure's uncle, Etienne, is particularly effective. All and all, Appelman turns in a dramatic and well-paced performance of Doerr's richly conveyed and heartbreaking period piece. A Scribner hardcover. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781442375420 Starred Review. Zach Appelman narrates Doerr's tender World War II tale of two young people: Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, and Werner, who was orphaned by a tragic mine accident. Marie-Laure's father is the locksmith for a natural history museum, and when Paris falls, he and his daughter escape to the home of her great uncle Etienne in Saint Malo, carrying what may be a priceless diamond. Her father is imprisoned and soon Etienne and Marie-Laure become resistance fighters, sending clandestine radio transmissions. In Germany, Werner escapes the mines because of his mathematical ability and interest in radios and is sent to a training camp for Hitler youth. Werner is conflicted he is receiving the education he wanted so desperately, but when confronted daily with injustice and brutality, he finally asks to leave. Instead, he is sent to the front. Using technology he helped develop, Werner is charged with finding and eliminating partisans such as Etienne and Marie-Laure. The listener knows that slowly, inextricably, Werner's and Marie-Laure's lives will intersect. But Doerr does not leave listeners in despair. Like light through the clouds, love, hope, and kindness peek through time and again. VERDICT Listeners must attend closely to this story of innocents caught up in the darkness of World War II. But if they do, they are rewarded with an excellent narration of a beautifully written story. ["The novel presents two characters so interesting and sympathetic that readers will keep turning the pages hoping for an impossibly happy ending," read the starred review of the Scribner hc, LJ 2/1/14.] Judy Murray, Monroe Cty. Lib. Syst., Temperance, MI (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.
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
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2014
The Goldfinch: A Novel
 Donna Tartt
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780316055437 Donna Tartt's latest novel clocks in at an unwieldy 784 pages. The story begins with an explosion at the Metropolitan Museum that kills narrator Theo Decker's beloved mother and results in his unlikely possession of a Dutch masterwork called The Goldfinch. Shootouts, gangsters, pillowcases, storage lockers, and the black market for art all play parts in the ensuing life of the painting in Theo's care. Tartt's flair for suspense, on display in The Secret History (2005), features the pulp of a typical bildungsroman-Theo's dissolution into teenage delinquency and climb back out, his passionate friendship with the very funny Boris, his obsession with Pippa (a girl he first encounters minutes before the explosion)-but the painting is the novel's secret heart. Theo's fate hinges on the painting, and both take on depth as it steers Theo's life. Some sentences are clunky ("suddenly" and "meanwhile" abound), metaphors are repetitive (Theo's mother is compared to birds three times in 10 pages), and plot points are overly coincidental (as if inspired by TV), but there's a bewitching urgency to the narration that's impossible to resist. Theo is magnetic, perhaps because of his well-meaning criminality. The Goldfinch is a pleasure to read; with more economy to the brushstrokes, it might have been great. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (Oct. 22) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A long-awaited, elegant meditation on love, memory and the haunting power of art. Tartt (The Little Friend, 2002, etc.) takes a long time, a decade or more, between novels. This one, her third, tells the story of a young man named Theodore Decker who is forced to grapple with the world alone after his mother--brilliant, beautiful and a delight to be around--is felled in what would seem to be an accident, if an explosion inside a museum can be accidental. The terrible wreckage of the building, a talismanic painting half buried in plaster and dust, "the stink of burned clothes, and an occasional soft something pressing in on me that I didn't want to think about"--young Theo will carry these things forever. Tartt's narrative is in essence an extended footnote to that horror, with his mother becoming ever more alive in memory even as the time recedes: not sainted, just alive, the kind of person Theo misses because he can't tell her goofy things (his father taking his mistress to a Bon Jovi concert in Las Vegas, for instance: "It seemed terrible that she would never know this hilarious fact") as much as for any other reason. The symbolic echoes Tartt employs are occasionally heavy-handed, and it's a little too neat that Theo discovers the work of the sublime Dutch master Carel Fabritius, killed in a powder blast, just before the fateful event that will carry his mother away. Yet it all works. "All the rest of it is lost--everything he ever did," his mother quietly laments of the little-known artist, and it is Theo's mission as he moves through life to see that nothing in his own goes missing. Bookending Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud Incredibly Close, this is an altogether lovely addition to what might be called the literature of disaster and redemption. The novel is slow to build but eloquent and assured, with memorable characters, not least a Russian cracker-barrel philosopher who delivers a reading of God that Mordecai Richler might applaud. A standout--and well worth the wait.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316055437 This latest work from Tartt (Little Friend) is nothing like the small, exquisitely rendered painting of the title. Protagonist Theo Decker is just 13 years old when his mother is killed in an explosion at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, which the two had been visiting (but when?). Before the explosion, Theo makes eye contact with an appealing girl his age; afterward, he lifts the goldfinch painting (but why?) and is given a ring by the older man accompanying the girl (but why?). The ring leads him to Hobart and Blackwell, an antiques shop where he meets both generous proprietor Hobie and Pippa, the girl from the museum, who remains the elusive love of Theo's life. Meanwhile, Theo stays with the wealthy family of his sort-of friend Andy until his long-gone father reappears to plunder the mother's apartment (but who paid the rent all that time?) and take poor Theo to Las Vegas. There, free of parental guidance, Theo befriends Russian bad-boy Boris and goes off track, eventually returning to New York, floundering through school, and setting up business with Hobie, whom he more or less betrays (but why?). Verdict There might be an acute psychological portrait of grief and growth buried here, but there's so much unconsidered detail that subject and background seem switched, as in a badly done painting. We should feel for Theo in his anguish, but instead he leaves an acrid taste in the mouth. Tartt is beloved, and readers are going to go after this book (but why?). [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/13.]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (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. 9780316055437 *Starred Review* Cataclysmic loss and rupture with criminal intent visited upon the young have been Tartt's epic subjects as she creates one captivating and capacious novel a decade, from The Secret History (1992) to The Little Friend (2002) to this feverish saga. In the wake of his nefarious father's abandonment, Theo, a smart, 13-year-old Manhattanite, is extremely close to his vivacious mother until an act of terrorism catapults him into a dizzying world bereft of gravity, certainty, or love. Tartt writes from Theo's point of view with fierce exactitude and magnetic emotion as, stricken with grief and post-traumatic stress syndrome, he seeks sanctuary with a troubled Park Avenue family and, in Greenwich Village, with a kind and gifted restorer of antique furniture. Fate then delivers Theo to utterly alien Las Vegas, where he meets young outlaw Boris. As Theo becomes a complexly damaged adult, Tartt, in a boa constrictor-like plot, pulls him deeply into the shadow lands of art, lashed to seventeenth-century Dutch artist Carel Fabritius and his exquisite if sinister painting, The Goldfinch. Drenched in sensory detail, infused with Theo's churning thoughts and feelings, sparked by nimble dialogue, and propelled by escalating cosmic angst and thriller action, Tartt's trenchant, defiant, engrossing, and rocketing novel conducts a grand inquiry into the mystery and sorrow of survival, beauty and obsession, and the promise of art. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Word of best-selling Tartt's eagerly awaited third novel will travel fast and far via an author tour, interviews, and intense print, media, and online publicity.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist
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2013
The Orphan Master's Son: A Novel
Book Jacket   Adam Johnson
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780307939715 Johnson's North Korean tale is a mixture of adventure and romance, managing epic and intimate scales simultaneously. Pak Jun Do, a relative innocent, slowly rises from the work camp for orphans run by his father (he has to pose as an orphan) to soldier, kidnapper, sailor, spy, and more while falling in love with his country's most famous actress. Johnson depicts life in North Korea in vivid detail but presents his political thriller fancifully as well, invoking how Haruki Murakami or Gabriel Garcia Marquez might have treated this material. VERDICT Readers Josiah D. Lee, James Kyson Lee, and Tim Kang of television's The Mentalist keep the episodic narrative moving smoothly and energetically, providing a variety of voices for the characters from assorted backgrounds. This should appeal to fans of both thrillers and literary fiction. ["Readers who enjoy a fast-paced political thriller will welcome this wild ride through the amazingly conflicted world that exists within the heavily guarded confines of North Korea. Highly recommended," read the starred review of the New York Times best-selling Random hc, LJ 11/1/11.-Ed.]-Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. Lib. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780812992793 Johnson's novel accomplishes the seemingly impossible: an American writer has masterfully rendered the mysterious world of North Korea with the soul and savvy of a native, from its orphanages and its fishing boats to the kitchens of its high-ranking commanders. While oppressive propaganda echoes throughout, the tone never slides into caricature; if anything, the story unfolds with astounding empathy for those living in constant fear of imprisonment-or worse-but who manage to maintain their humanity against all odds. The book traces the journey of Jun Do, who for years lives according to the violent dictates of the state, as a tunnel expert who can fight in the dark, a kidnapper, radio operator, tenuous hero, and foreign dignitary before eventually taking his fate into his own hands. In one of the book's most poignant moments, a government interrogator, who tortures innocent citizens on a daily basis, remembers his own childhood and the way in which his father explained the inexplicable: "...we must act alone on the outside, while on the inside, we would be holding hands." In this moment and a thousand others like it, Johnson (Parasites Like Us) juxtaposes the vicious atrocities of the regime with the tenderness of beauty, love, and hope. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Parasites Like Us, 2003, etc.) darkly satisfying if somewhat self-indulgent novel is Pak Jun Do, the conflicted son of a singer. He knows no more, for "That was all Jun Do's father, the Orphan Master, would say about her." The Orphan Master runs an orphanage, but David Copperfield this ain't: Jun Do may have been the only non-orphan in the place, but that doesn't keep his father, a man of influence, from mistreating him as merrily as if he weren't one of his own flesh and blood. For this is the land of Kim Jong Il, the unhappy Potemkin Village land of North Korea, where even Josef Stalin would have looked around and thought the whole business excessive. Johnson's tale hits the ground running, and fast: Jun Do is recruited into a unit that specializes in kidnapping Koreans, and even non-Koreans, living outside the magic kingdom: doctors, film directors, even the Dear Leader's personal sushi chef. "There was a Japanese man. He took his dog for a walk. And then he was nowhere. For the people who knew him, he'd forever be nowhere." So ponders Jun Do, who, specializing in crossing the waters to Japan, sneaking out of tunnels and otherwise working his ghostlike wonders, rises up quickly in the state apparatus, only to fall after a bungled diplomatic trip to the United States. Johnson sets off in the land of John le Carr, but by the time Jun Do lands in Texas we're in a Pynchonesque territory of impossibilities, and by the time he's in the pokey we're in a subplot worthy of Akutagawa. Suffice it to say that Jun Do switches identities, at which point thriller becomes picaresque satire and rifles through a few other genres, shifting narrators, losing and regaining focus and point of view. The reader will have to grant the author room to accommodate the show-offishness, which seems to say, with the rest of the book, that in a world run by a Munchkin overlord like Kim, nothing can be too surreal. Indeed, once Fearless Leader speaks, he's a model of weird clarity: "But let's speak of our shared status as nuclear nations another time. Now let's have some blues." Ambitious and very well written, despite the occasional overreach. When it's made into a film, bet that Kim Jong Il will want to score an early bootleg.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780812992793 Imagine a society in which the official political story tells only of happiness and prosperity, yet personal experience reveals the opposite. Imagine the resulting internal dissonance and the ways in which people might reconcile such opposing forces. This is the experience offered by Johnson (Parasites Like Us) in his novel of modern-day North Korea. Following the path of the hero's journey, young Pak Jun Do moves from an orphanage into a life of espionage, kidnapping, and torture, only to be given a new identity as the husband of the Dear Leader's favorite actress. With references to the classic American film Casablanca, Johnson's narrative portrays his hero as he makes his way through a minefield of corruption and violence, eventually giving his all so that his loved ones might have a better life. VERDICT Readers who enjoy a fast-paced political thriller will welcome this wild ride through the amazingly conflicted world that exists within the heavily guarded confines of North Korea. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 8/15/11.]-Susanne Wells, M.L.S., Indianapolis (c) Copyright 2011. 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. 9780812992793 *Starred Review* Pak Jun Do lives with his father at a North Korean work camp for orphans. In a nation in which every citizen serves the state, orphans routinely get the most dangerous jobs. So it is for Jun Do, who becomes a tunnel soldier, trained to fight in complete darkness in the tunnels beneath the DMZ. But he is reassigned as a kidnapper, snatching Japanese citizens with special skills, such as a particular opera singer or sushi chef. Failure as a kidnapper could lead directly to the prison mines. But in Johnson's fantastical, careening tale, Jun Do manages to impersonate Commander Ga, the country's greatest military hero, rival of Dear Leader Kim Jong Il and husband of Sun Moon, North Korea's only movie star. Informed by extensive research and travel to perhaps the most secretive nation on earth, Johnson has created a remarkable novel that encourages the willing suspension of disbelief. As Jun Do, speaking as Ga, puts it, people have been trained to accept any reality presented to them. Johnson winningly employs different voices, with the propagandizing national radio station serving as a mad Greek chorus. Descriptions of everyday privations and barbarities are matter of fact, and Jun Do's love for Sun Moon reads like a fairy tale. Part adventure, part coming-of-age tale, and part romance, The Orphan Master's Son is a triumph on every level.--Gaughan, Thomas Copyright 2010 Booklist
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2011
A Visit from the Goon Squad
Book Jacket   Jennifer Egan
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
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781602839151 In reading this novel of interconnected lives at the fringes of the music industry, Roxana Ortega freights her breathy voice with the moral confusion and sadness of Egan's disaffected, dismayed characters. A surprisingly supple instrument, Ortega's voice can drop to a gruff near-growl, and she craftily uses her range to convey the feeling of the bottom dropping out of the characters' lives. A Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 22). (June) (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. 9780792771746 National Book Award nominee Egan's (jenniferegan.com) fourth novel, following The Keep (2006), also available from AudioGO, received wide critical acclaim for its deft treatment of time, technology, and humanity. Here, the brilliantly structured postmodernist work receives the audio treatment. The novel skips around in time, covering several decades in the lives of a record executive/ex-rocker; his assistant, a compulsive thief; and others. The very human characters grow on one despite-or, perhaps, owing to-Egan's frequent skewering of them. Actress Roxana Ortega's narration is soothing; her steady voice gives listeners something to hold on to when chapters occasionally confuse. Ortega appears to be new to the audiobook narrating business-with more inflection she has the potential to become a popular reader. Recommended. ["Readers will enjoy seeing the disparate elements of this novel come full circle," read the review of the Knopf hc, LJ 4/15/10.-Ed.]-B. Allison Gray, Santa Barbara P.L., Goleta Branch, CA (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
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.
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2010
Tinkers
 Paul Harding
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781934137123 *Starred Review* A tinker is a mender, and in Harding's spellbinding debut, he imagines the old, mendable horse-and-carriage world. The objects of the past were more readily repaired than our electronics, but the living world was a mystery, as it still is, as it always will be. And so in this rhapsodic novel of impending death, Harding considers humankind's contrary desires to conquer the imps of disorder and to be one with life, fully meshed within the great glimmering web. In the present, George lies on his death bed in the Massachusetts house he built himself, surrounded by family and the antique clocks he restores. George loves the precision of fine timepieces, but now he is at the mercy of chaotic forces and seems to be channeling his late father, Howard, a tinker and a mystic whose epileptic seizures strike like lightning. Howard, in turn, remembers his strange and gentle minister father. Each man is extraordinarily porous to nature and prone to becoming unhitched from everyday human existence and entering a state of ecstasy, even transcendence. Writing with breathtaking lyricism and tenderness, Harding has created a rare and beautiful novel of spiritual inheritance and acute psychological and metaphysical suspense.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2008 Booklist
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781934137123 Harding's outstanding debut unfurls the history and final thoughts of a dying grandfather surrounded by his family in his New England home. George Washington Crosby repairs clocks for a living and on his deathbed revisits his turbulent childhood as the oldest son of an epileptic smalltime traveling salesman. The descriptions of the father's epilepsy and the "cold halo of chemical electricity that encircled him immediately before he was struck by a full seizure" are stunning, and the household's sadness permeates the narrative as George returns to more melancholy scenes. The real star is Harding's language, which dazzles whether he's describing the workings of clocks, sensory images of nature, the many engaging side characters who populate the book, or even a short passage on how to build a bird nest. This is an especially gorgeous example of novelistic craftsmanship. (Jan.) (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. 9781934137123 George Washington Crosby has eight days to live. After this first line, the life of George and of his father, Howard, who left when George was 12, is explored through the metaphor of George's hobby of repairing clocks. Howard was a peddler, traveling with a cart and mule through eastern Maine around the turn of the century. This isolated profession allowed him to keep his affliction, epilepsy, successfully hidden from most everyone until, finally, his wife decides he has to be institutionalized for the safety of her children. It is to avoid this that Howard disappears. George, as he lays dying, considers his life and family coming in and out of reality and history. Harding, an MFA from Iowa Writer's Workshop, creates a beautifully written study of father-son relationships and the nature of time. This short work is a solid addition for larger literary collections. Recommended.--Josh Cohen, Mid-Hudson Lib. Syst., Poughkeepsie, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Elderly New Englander on his deathbed finds his thoughts drifting back to the father who abandoned the family when he was 12. His organs failing and his mind wandering, retired antique-clock repairman George Washington Crosby prepares to leave this world surrounded by loving family in the house he built himself. In a parallel narrative, his father Howard, a traveling peddler, sells cleaning supplies and sundries to dirt-poor farm wives in 1920s Massachusetts. Barely eking out enough to support his increasingly bitter wife Kathleen and four children, Howard has the heart of a poet and prefers nature walks to selling soap. His quiet desperation is complicated by regular epileptic seizures that leave him bloody and dazed, sometimes miles from home. A violent fit in his home results in him badly biting young George, prompting Kathleen to take steps to send her husband to a state-run mental hospital. He flees, leaving George to grow up into a meticulous, practical man who stashes cash in safety-deposit boxes, most likely as a reaction to his own penniless youth. Debut author Harding (Creative Writing/Harvard Univ.) employs diary entries, stream-of-consciousness musings and excerpts from clock-repair manuals to tell both men's stories. Short on dialogue and filled with lovely Whitmanesque descriptions of the natural world, this slim novel gives shape to the extraordinary variety in the thoughts of otherwise ordinary men. An evocative meditation on the nonlinear nature of a life. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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  Book Jacket
2009
Olive Kitteridge:
 Elizabeth Strout
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.
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 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.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The abrasive, vulnerable title character sometimes stands center stage, sometimes plays a supporting role in these 13 sharply observed dramas of small-town life from Strout (Abide with Me, 2006, etc.). Olive Kitteridge certainly makes a formidable contrast with her gentle, quietly cheerful husband Henry from the moment we meet them both in "Pharmacy," which introduces us to several other denizens of Crosby, Maine. Though she was a math teacher before she and Henry retired, she's not exactly patient with shy young people—or anyone else. Yet she brusquely comforts suicidal Kevin Coulson in "Incoming Tide" with the news that her father, like Kevin's mother, killed himself. And she does her best to help anorexic Nina in "Starving," though Olive knows that the troubled girl is not the only person in Crosby hungry for love. Children disappoint, spouses are unfaithful and almost everyone is lonely at least some of the time in Strout's rueful tales. The Kitteridges' son Christopher marries, moves to California and divorces, but he doesn't come home to the house his parents built for him, causing deep resentments to fester around the borders of Olive's carefully tended garden. Tensions simmer in all the families here; even the genuinely loving couple in "Winter Concert" has a painful betrayal in its past. References to Iraq and 9/11 provide a somber context, but the real dangers here are personal: aging, the loss of love, the imminence of death. Nonetheless, Strout's sensitive insights and luminous prose affirm life's pleasures, as elderly, widowed Olive thinks, "It baffled her, the world. She did not want to leave it yet." A perfectly balanced portrait of the human condition, encompassing plenty of anger, cruelty and loss without ever losing sight of the equally powerful presences of tenderness, shared pursuits and lifelong loyalty. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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.
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
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  Book Jacket
 
2008
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Book Jacket   Junot Diaz
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781415941942 Oscar de León, an overweight Dominican boy growing up in New Jersey, is obsessed with sci-fi/fantasy novels, falling in love, and the fukú, a curse that has plagued his family for generations. Elements of magical realism enhance this stellar story. © Copyright 2016. 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. 9781415941942 D!az's remarkable debut novel tells the story of a lonely outsider with zest rather than pathos. Oscar grows up in a Dominican neighborhood in Paterson, NJ, as an overweight, homely lover of sf and fantasy. Reading such books and trying to emulate them in his own writing provide Oscar's only pleasure. What he really wants is love, but his romantic overtures are constantly rejected. The author balances Oscar's story with glances at the history of the Dominican Republic, focusing on the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship and its effect on Oscar's family. D!az masterfully shifts between Oscar and his sister, mother, and grandfather to give this intimate character study an epic scale, showing that an individual life is the product of family history. Jonathan Davis's sensitive reading captures the romantic quest of the hero and the tragedy of life under Trujillo, and Staci Snell ably reads the alternating chapters dealing with Oscar's sister and mother. Also included is Drown, a collection of stories by D!az. Highly recommended for all collections. [This book is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.-Ed.]-Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A rich, impassioned vision of the Dominican Republic and its diaspora, filtered through the destiny of a single family. After a noted debut volume of short stories (Drown, 1996), D"az pens a first novel that bursts alive in an ironic, confiding, exuberant voice. Its wider focus is an indictment of the terrible Trujillo regime and its aftermath, but the approach is oblique, traced backwards via the children (Oscar and Lola) of a larger-than-life but ruined Dominican matriarch, Beli. In earthy, streetwise, Spanish-interlaced prose, D"az links overweight, nerdy fantasist Oscar, his combative, majestic sister and their once Amazonian mother to the island of their ancestry. There, an aunt, La Inca, with strange, possibly supernatural powers, heals and saves Beli after her involvement with one of Trujillo's minor henchman, who was married to the dictator's sister. Beli, at age14, had naively hoped this affair would lead to marriage and family, but instead her pregnancy incurred a near-fatal beating, after which she fled to New Jersey to a life of drudgery, single parenting and illness. By placing sad, lovelorn, virginal Oscar at the book's heart, D"az softens the horrors visited on his antecedents, which began when Trujillo cast his predatory eye on wealthy Abelard Cabral's beautiful daughter. Was the heap of catastrophes that ensued fukú (accursed fate), D"az asks repeatedly, and can there be counterbalancing zafa (blessing)? The story comes full circle with Oscar's death in Santo Domingo's fateful cornfields, himself the victim of a post-Trujillo petty tyrant, but it's redeemed by the power of love. Despite a less sure-footed conclusion, D"az's reverse family saga, crossed with withering political satire, makes for a compelling, sex-fueled, 21st-century tragi-comedy with a magical twist. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780143142805 What a bargain to have D!az's short story collection, Drown, included (on the last five CDs) with the talented, emerging Dominican-American writer's first novel. Davis reads both superbly. He captures not only the fat, virginal, impractical Oscar, but he also gives a sexy vigor to Yunior, who serves as narrator and Oscar's polar opposite. Davis also gives voice to Oscar's mother, Beli, whose fuk# curse infects the entire family, except for Oscar's sister, Lola, performed in a flat voice by Snell, whose performance overlooks Lola's energy and resolve. Both Snell and Davis move easily from English to Spanish/Spanglish and back again, as easily as the characters emigrate from the Dominican Republic to Paterson, N.J., only to be drawn back inexorably to their native island. Listeners unfamiliar with Spanish may have difficulty following some of the dialogue. However, it's better to lose a few sentences than to miss Davis's riveting performance, perfect pace and rich voice, which are perfectly suited to D!az's brilliant work. Simultaneous release with the Riverhead hardcover (Reviews, June 18). (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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
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
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780525493990 Lin-Manuel Miranda has another hit on his hands with this jaw-dropping performance of Diaz's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, originally published in 2007. With its lyrical mix of standard and slang English and Spanish and nonstop barrage of references to often obscure academic and pop culture topics, Diaz's phenomenal debut presents a distinct challenge to any narrator. Miranda's energy and melodious reading invigorates listeners and prevents them from feeling too overwhelmed by any unfamiliar allusions or phrases. While the novel centers on the struggles of three generations of the de Leon family under the brutal Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo and their eventual immigration to the United States, the voice of the novel is Yunior, a bilingual Dominican American who roomed with Oscar de Leon at Rutgers University. Miranda is spot-on as the somewhat slippery, often raw Yunior-listeners are transported to his dorm room, hearing him spin these tragicomic tales over a beer or two. Karen Olivo chips in with a spirited performance of the chapter featuring Oscar's sister, Lola. Diaz's novel, sensational in print, is exponentially enriched by the performances of these Broadway stars. -VERDICT Essential for all libraries.- Beth -Farrell, Cleveland State Univ. Law Lib. © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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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. 9781428105492 McCarthy has written two survival tales, with unnamed characters traveling westward through desolate landscapes. Mercifully unique, Blood Meridian (1985) pre-sents gruesome horror as literary Western, sketching the adventures of an unidentified teen who joins a marauding gang of scalp hunters in the 1850s Southwest. The first three hours are a tour de force of sustained repellency, piling atrocity upon atrocity before settling into a more sustainable rate of a massacre or two per chapter. McCarthy's achievement here is his prose, not quite biblical, not quite Faulknerian, much of it unfamiliar enough to sound made up. Reader Richard Poe groans the lines, and if he only uses a few voices, most of the characters seem meant to be indistinguishable. Widely regarded as a modern classic, however unpleasant, this title belongs in most library collections. Bleak as it is, Road seems much more palatable in comparison, offering compassion in the person of a dying father who protects and cares for his son as they travel through a world shattered by an unexplained apocalypse. Starving and exhausted, they travel to the Pacific, scavenging food when they can and keeping other rapacious, cannibalistic survivors at bay. The boy tells himself they're the "good guys" and "carry the flame," but the father does what he must to survive. Veteran reader Tom Stechschulte navigates McCarthy's arcane language, emphasizing the pair's shared tenderness, in a wonderfully moving tale. Road's Pulitzer Prize and Oprah selection speak for themselves; essential.-John Hiett, Iowa City P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Even within the author's extraordinary body of work, this stands as a radical achievement, a novel that demands to be read and reread. McCarthy (No Country for Old Men, 2005, etc.) pushes his thematic obsessions to their extremes in a parable that reads like Night of the Living Dead as rewritten by Samuel Beckett. Where much of McCarthy's fiction has been set in the recent past of the South and West, here he conjures a nightmare of an indeterminate future. A great fire has left the country covered in layers of ash and littered with incinerated corpses. Foraging through the wasteland are a father and son, neither named (though the son calls the father "Papa"). The father dimly remembers the world as it was and occasionally dreams of it. The son was born on the cusp of whatever has happened—apocalypse? holocaust?—and has never known anything else. His mother committed suicide rather than face the unspeakable horror. As they scavenge for survival, they consider themselves the "good guys," carriers of the fire, while most of the few remaining survivors are "bad guys," cannibals who eat babies. In order to live, they must keep moving amid this shadowy landscape, in which ashes have all but obliterated the sun. In their encounters along their pilgrimage to the coast, where things might not be better but where they can go no further, the boy emerges as the novel's moral conscience. The relationship between father and son has a sweetness that represents all that's good in a universe where conventional notions of good and evil have been extinguished. Amid the bleakness of survival—through which those who wish they'd never been born struggle to persevere—there are glimmers of comedy in an encounter with an old man who plays the philosophical role of the Shakespearean fool. Though the sentences of McCarthy's recent work are shorter and simpler than they once were, his prose combines the cadence of prophecy with the indelible images of poetry. A novel of horrific beauty, where death is the only truth. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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
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.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved McCarthy's latest novel, a frightening apocalyptic vision, is narrated by a nameless man, one of the few survivors of an unspecified civilization-ending catastrophe. He and his young son are trekking along a treacherous highway, starving and freezing, trying to avoid roving cannibal armies. The tale, and their lives, are saved from teetering over the edge of bleakness thanks to the man's fierce belief that they are "the good guys" who are preserving the light of humanity. In this stark, effective production, Stechschulte gives the father an appropriately harsh, weary voice that sways little from its numbed register except to urge on the weakening boy or soothe his fears after an encounter with barbarians. When they uncover some vestige of the former world, the man recalls its vanished wonder with an aching nostalgia that makes the listener's heart swell. Stechschulte portrays the son with a mournful, slightly breathy tone that emphasizes the child's whininess, making him much less sympathetic than his resourceful father. With no music or effects interrupting Stechschulte's carefully measured pace and gruff, straightforward delivery, McCarthy's darkly poetic prose comes alive in a way that will transfix listeners. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 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. 9781436113038 "A wonderfully moving tale," though "bleak"; "essential" (LJ 7/07). (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2006
March
 Geraldine Brooks
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780670033355 Brooks's luminous second novel, after 2001's acclaimed Year of Wonders, imagines the Civil War experiences of Mr. March, the absent father in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. An idealistic Concord cleric, March becomes a Union chaplain and later finds himself assigned to be a teacher on a cotton plantation that employs freed slaves, or "contraband." His narrative begins with cheerful letters home, but March gradually reveals to the reader what he does not to his family: the cruelty and racism of Northern and Southern soldiers, the violence and suffering he is powerless to prevent and his reunion with Grace, a beautiful, educated slave whom he met years earlier as a Connecticut peddler to the plantations. In between, we learn of March's earlier life: his whirlwind courtship of quick-tempered Marmee, his friendship with Emerson and Thoreau and the surprising cause of his family's genteel poverty. When a Confederate attack on the contraband farm lands March in a Washington hospital, sick with fever and guilt, the first-person narrative switches to Marmee, who describes a different version of the years past and an agonized reaction to the truth she uncovers about her husband's life. Brooks, who based the character of March on Alcott's transcendentalist father, Bronson, relies heavily on primary sources for both the Concord and wartime scenes; her characters speak with a convincing 19th-century formality, yet the narrative is always accessible. Through the shattered dreamer March, the passion and rage of Marmee and a host of achingly human minor characters, Brooks's affecting, beautifully written novel drives home the intimate horrors and ironies of the Civil War and the difficulty of living honestly with the knowledge of human suffering. Agent, Kris Dahl. 10-city author tour. (Mar. 7) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780670033355 Adult/High School-In Brooks's well-researched interpretation of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Mr. March also remains a shadowy figure for the girls who wait patiently for his letters. They keep a stiff upper lip, answering his stiff, evasive, flowery letters with cheering accounts of the plays they perform and the charity they provide, hiding their own civilian privations. Readers, however, are treated to the real March, based loosely upon the character of Alcott's own father. March is a clergyman influenced by Thoreau, Emerson, and especially John Brown (to whom he loses a fortune). His high-minded ideals are continually thwarted not only by the culture of the times, but by his own ineptitude as well. A staunch abolitionist, he is amazingly naive about human nature. He joins the Union army and soon becomes attached to a hospital unit. His radical politics are an embarrassment to the less ideological men, and he is appalled by their lack of abolitionist sentiments and their cruelty. When it appears that he has committed a sexual indiscretion with a nurse, a former slave and an old acquaintance, March is sent to a plantation where the recently freed slaves earn wages but continue to experience cruelty and indignities. Here his faith in himself and in his religious and political convictions are tested. Sick and discouraged, he returns to his little women, who have grown strong in his absence. March, on the other hand, has experienced the horrors of war, serious illness, guilt, regret, and utter disillusionment.-Jackie Gropman, Chantilly Regional Library, VA (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. 9780792735069 In Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, readers see a perfect, self-sacrificing, loving, close-knit family. Brooks here concentrates on the absent father. Referring to him as simply March, Brooks creates a picture of his struggle with his not-so-perfect life during his tour of duty as a chaplain on the Civil War battlefields of Virginia. What emerges is the complex conflict of a man of principle who must adjust to fit the reality he encounters. March wrestles with hatred, evil, violence, ignorance, rage, lust, illness, and competing loyalties, from both outside himself and within. The author's extensive research provides the details of time and place that make this tale so compelling. Richard Easton's delivery is flawless-the characters are complex, their encounters, realistic. Recommended.-Joanna M. Burkhardt, Coll. of Continuing Education Lib., Univ. of Rhode Island, Providence (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. 9780792734895 Read by Richard Easton. Simultaneous with the Viking hardcover. (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. 9780670033355 Brooks imagines what happened to March, father of Alcott's little women. With a ten-city author tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Brooks combines her penchant for historical fiction (Year of Wonders, 2001, etc.) with the literary-reinvention genre as she imagines the Civil War from the viewpoint of Little Women's Mr. March (a stand-in for Bronson Alcott). In 1861, John March, a Union chaplain, writes to his family from Virginia, where he finds himself at an estate he remembers from his much earlier life. He'd come there as a young peddler and become a guest of the master, Mr. Clement, whom he initially admired for his culture and love of books. Then Clement discovered that March, with help from the light-skinned, lovely, and surprisingly educated house slave Grace, was teaching a slave child to read. The seeds of abolitionism were planted as March watched his would-be mentor beat Grace with cold mercilessness. When March's unit makes camp in the now ruined estate, he finds Grace still there, nursing Clement, who is revealed to be, gasp, her father. Although drawn to Grace, March is true to his wife Marmee, and the story flashes back to their life together in Concord. Friends of Emerson and Thoreau, the pair became active in the Underground Railroad and raised their four daughters in wealth until March lost all his money in a scheme of John Brown's. Now in the war-torn South, March finds himself embroiled in another scheme doomed to financial failure when his superiors order him to minister to the "contraband": freed slaves working as employees for a northerner who has leased a liberated cotton plantation. The morally gray complications of this endeavor are the novel's greatest strength. After many setbacks, the crop comes in, but the new plantation-owner is killed by marauders and his "employees" taken back into slavery. March, deathly ill, ends up in a Washington, DC, hospital, where Marmee visits and meets Grace, now a nurse. Readers of Little Women know the ending. The battle scenes are riveting, the human drama flat. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780670033355 Brooks' first novel ( Year of Wonders0 , 2001) was a straightforward historical novel of the plague. For her second novel, she has come close to creating a new genre; she imagines the life of Captain March, the father in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women0 . This technique has been done before, most famously in Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea0 . Brooks, however, has combined this idea with two other genres, historical fiction and fictionalized biography. The results, however, are mixed. March appears, much like Bronson himself, as a man whose convictions tread a thin line between admirable and aggravating. He is pure to the point of being ineffectual, and noble to the point of stupidity. The nineteenth-century writing style is accurate and entertaining, but it may be too ornate for some readers. The best moments in the narrative are the peeks inside the mind of the long-suffering Marmee, and thus we learn where Jo gets her famous spunk. --Marta Segal Copyright 2005 Booklist
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2005
Gilead: A Novel
 Marilynne Robinson
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
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. In 1871, in the small town of Placid, Wis., a sister goes missing and a great adventure begins. Disconsolate over the end of a promising courtship, Agatha Burkhardt runs off without so much as a goodbye to her younger sister, Georgie. When the sheriff attempts to locate and retrieve Agatha, he brings home not the vibrant sister that Georgie adores, but an unidentifiable body wearing Agatha's ball gown. Alone in her belief that the body is not her sister's, Georgie sneaks away in the dead of night, determined to retrace Agatha's steps in order to solve the mystery of her disappearance and, she hopes, to bring her home. To Georgie's surprise, she's joined on the journey by her sister's former flame. And what a journey it is, fraught with mountain lions, counterfeiters and marriage proposals. The truly memorable characters and setting--particularly descriptions of the incredible phenomenon of passenger-pigeon nesting and migration--and the gradual unraveling of the mystery of Agatha's disappearance make this one hard to put down. The icing on the cake, though, is Georgie's narration, which is fresh, laugh-out-loud funny and an absolute delight to read. Georgie's story will capture readers' imaginations with the very first sentences and then hold them hostage until the final page is turned. (Historical fiction. 9-12)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780375869259 When her older sister Agatha is found dead (but unrecognizable), Georgie is certain that there has been a mistake. With her sister's unwelcome suitor Billy McCabe, Georgie sets off to find her sister, or, at least, to find out how she died. The adversarial relationship between Georgie and Billy provides superb comic relief in a gripping, gritty story set in 1870s Wisconsin. (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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