August 13, 2015
We own all of these titles in print, and I will do cross-format work today. I am reproducing a few annotations below but it’s worth looking at the actual page to see the librarian reader comments. Congratulations to Evison on making this list!
This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison.
“Jonathan Evison is a ridiculously gifted storyteller: racing, breathless, and vibrant with his prose, hungry for personal truths, and clearly in love with the world around us all. That compassion and those writerly charms are deeply felt in This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!, an irresistible, inventive novel full of important ideas about how we live our lives as parents, children, partners, and human beings.” –Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins With Bernard, her husband of fifty-five years, now in the grave, seventy-eight-year-old Harriet Chance impulsively sets sail on an ill-conceived Alaskan cruise that her late husband had planned. But what she hoped would be a voyage leading to a new lease on life becomes a surprising and revelatory journey into Harriet’s past. There, amid the overwhelming buffets and the incessant lounge singers, between the imagined appearances of her late husband and the very real arrival of her estranged daughter midway through the cruise, Harriet is forced to take a long look back, confronting the truth about pivotal events that changed the course of her life. And in the process she discovers that she’s been living the better part of that life under entirely false assumptions. In This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! Jonathan Evison has crafted a bighearted novel with an endearing heroine at the helm. Through Harriet, he paints a bittersweet portrait of a postmodern everywoman, her story told with great warmth, humanity, and humor. Part dysfunctional love story, part poignant exploration of the mother-daughter relationship, nothing is what it seems in this tale of acceptance, reexamination, and forgiveness.
The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo
Broke and knocked up, Mattie Wallace has got all her worldly possessions crammed into six giant trash bags and nowhere to go. Try as she might, she really is turning into her late mother, a broken alcoholic who never met a bad choice she didn’t make. When Mattie gets news of a possible inheritance left by a grandmother she’s never met, she jumps at this one last chance to turn things around. Leaving the Florida Panhandle, she drives eight hundred miles to her mother’s birthplace–the tiny town of Gandy, Oklahoma. There, she soon learns that her mother remains a local mystery–a happy, talented teenager who inexplicably skipped town thirty-five years ago with nothing but the clothes on her back. But the girl they describe bears little resemblance to the damaged woman Mattie knew, and before long it becomes clear that something terrible happened to her mother. The deeper Mattie digs for answers, the more precarious her situation becomes. Giving up, however, isn’t an option. Uncovering what started her mother’s downward spiral might be the only way to stop her own.
Other Selections for September 2015
July 29, 2015
Random House has a nice promotional link on Edelweiss where they are promoting egalleys of some great upcoming titles by authors like David Mitchell and Jane Smiley, as well as Garth Risk Hallberg’s incredible historically panoramic debut about New York in the 1970’s (City on Fire). There are hundreds of others from multiple publishers available for download, and this is just a particularly nice sample. Once you get set up in an account on Edelweiss (yes there’s always that catch but it isn’t an onerous process), it’s easy to request a digital galley to read through 3M or OverDrive. In most cases, I’ve gotten approval anywhere from almost immediately to a few days. It’s a delight to have pre-pub titles on your laptop or smartphone for those weekends and vacations. And, there is a nice review feature where with one click of a button you can submit your rating and/or review to the publisher, or in the right timeline, to the Library Reads nomination process, which is basically open to anyone who gets a paycheck from a public library system. City on Fire and The Tsar of Love and Techno are also in the catalog now, while the others soon will be. If you choose to write reviews, however, do pay attention to the language about quotations and other restrictions in the publisher’s approval.
Hallberg, Garth Risk. City on Fire.
A big-hearted, boundary-vaulting novel that heralds a remarkable new talent: set in 1970s New York, a story outsized in its generosity, warmth, and ambition, its deep feeling for its characters, its exuberant imagination. The individuals who live within this extraordinary first novel are: Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, estranged heirs to one of the city’s largest fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better or worse, love them; Charlie and Samantha, two suburban teenagers seduced by downtown’s punk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter and his idealistic neighbor; and the detective trying to figure out what any of them have to do with a shooting in Central Park. Their entangled relationships open up the loneliest-seeming corners of the crowded city. And when the infamous blackout of July 13, 1977, plunges this world into darkness, each of these lives will be changed forever. A novel about love and betrayal and forgiveness, about art and truth and rock ‘n’ roll, about how the people closest to us are sometimes the hardest to reach–about what it means to be human.
Marra, Anthony. The Tsar of Love and Techno.
From the New York Times bestselling author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena –dazzling, poignant, and lyrical interwoven stories about family, sacrifice, the legacy of war, and the redemptive power of art. This stunning, exquisitely written collection introduces a cast of remarkable characters whose lives intersect in ways both life-affirming and heartbreaking. A 1930s Soviet censor painstakingly corrects offending photographs, deep underneath Leningrad, bewitched by the image of a disgraced prima ballerina. A chorus of women recount their stories and those of their grandmothers, former gulag prisoners who settled their Siberian mining town. Two pairs of brothers share a fierce, protective love. Young men across the former USSR face violence at home and in the military. And great sacrifices are made in the name of an oil landscape unremarkable except for the almost incomprehensibly peaceful past it depicts. In stunning prose, with rich character portraits and a sense of history reverberating into the present, The Tsar of Love and Techno is a captivating work from one of our greatest new talents.
July 29, 2015
The Man Booker Prize has announced its longlist and I thought I’d share the link since we do have the majority of these and not just the Americans. It seems many of the commonwealth writers have already been published in the US, which is great. The only exceptions I’ve noted are The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota (UK), Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy (India), and The Chimes by Anna Smaill (New Zealand), but while they’re not available from US publisher yet, that will surely change if they win and The Year of the Runaways is coming out here next March. I’m adding copies of Laila Lalami’s The Moor’s Account as well. [Note: here’s some interesting follow-up commentary from the Guardian about this year’s list and diversity.]
July 28, 2015
Recently you may have noticed that new hardcover titles by single authors on our Adult Fiction Standing Order (always handy on the intranet) have been ordered closer to six months pre-publication instead of right around three months as previously. For instance, Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich is in there if you didn’t hear the starting pistol. We are hoping this change will be reassuring to those customers with keen antennae for what’s coming up, minimizing RINC’s for what are certain orders anyway. We also hope that this will avoid the situation where we have an electronic edition in the catalog for a long time before the print edition.
Another change that will gradually occur this summer is that Becky and I will be tweaking the list to adjust both authors and quantities. While restricted to the authors that Ingram offers in its program, we can add a significant number of newly popular authors (e.g., Jojo Moyes) while dropping other authors, or lowering automatic quantities for them, if they have been less active or their series a little less popular of late. Stay tuned.
I just finished Louis de Bernières’ The Dust That Falls from Dreams, primarily about a young generation of Britons and their parents, some transplanted from America or France, that live and die through World War I and its aftermath. De Bernières is one of my favorites after Bird Without Wings from 2004, though he’s probably most famous for Corelli’s Mandolin. In The Dust…the characters’ dignified and constructive response to personal tragedy is touchingly evident throughout. The author starts the book with the innocent childhoods of the main characters at the death of Queen Victoria, ironically the Kaiser’s grandmother. It sets the stage for what a rude shock the war was to people of that time. I was also entranced by one of the main character’s diary of daily life in the trenches, including vivid descriptions of dangerously unretrievable rotting bodies, unsanitary trench conditions, and alternatively shooting at and conversing or even singing to the enemy trenches only yards away. There are also light moments of comic relief, such as when eccentric but connected Mrs. McCosh writes frequently to the king asking personal favors, which prompts indulgent, respectful replies from his secretary (“His majesty must leave such matters to his government”). Overall – an affecting story of letting go and moving on and conflicting allegiances in a messy world. Please comment to claim if you’d like this ARC. I’ve always thought this author deserves to be more popular. We have six copies on order with five holds. This comes out next month. Any takers?
July 10, 2015
Here is the link to all selections and annotations. I’ll reproduce the favorite below. We own all titles at least in print and I’m working on some cross-format fill today. Keep in mind 3M titles on order do not appear in the catalog until released. Thanks!
Gottlieb, Eli. Best Boy.
Sent to a “therapeutic community” for autism at the age of eleven, Todd Aaron, now in his fifties, is the “Old Fox” of Payton LivingCenter. A joyous man who rereads the encyclopedia compulsively, he is unnerved by the sudden arrivals of a menacing new staffer and a disruptive, brain-injured roommate. His equilibrium is further worsened by Martine, a one-eyed new resident who has romantic intentions and convinces him to go off his meds to feel “normal” again. Undone by these pressures, Todd attempts an escape to return “home” to his younger brother and to a childhood that now inhabits only his dreams. Written astonishingly in the first-person voice of an autistic, adult man, Best Boy–with its unforgettable portraits of Todd’s beloved mother, whose sweet voice still sings from the grave, and a staffer named Raykene, who says that Todd “reflects the beauty of His creation”–is a piercing, achingly funny, finally shattering novel no reader can ever forget.
June 11, 2015
The July selections have been announced. The only one we don’t already have on order is Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid, which I’ve just submitted. There’s also a non-fiction food related selection: Good and Cheap Eat Well on $4/Day.
The Favorite – Kitchens of the Great Midwest.
Already a hotly anticipated debut–about a young woman with a once-in-a-generation palate who becomes the iconic chef behind the country’s most coveted dinner reservation When Lars Thorvald’s wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine–and a dashing sommelier–he’s left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He’s determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter–starting with puréed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros, each ingredient represents one part of Eva’s journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club, culminating in an opulent and emotional feast that’s a testament to her spirit and resilience. Each chapter in J. Ryan Stradal’s startlingly original debut tells the story of a single dish and character, at once capturing the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and delving into the ways food creates community and a sense of identity. By turns quirky, hilarious, and vividly sensory, Kitchens of the Great Midwest is an unexpected mother-daughter story about the bittersweet nature of life–its missed opportunities and its joyful surprises. It marks the entry of a brilliant new talent.