A beautifully poetic memoir chronicling a time of loss and wonder, Lost and Found uses natural phenomena like meteorites and systems like alphabets to tell of the overlapping months when the author lost her beloved father and found her beloved wife. Sad and joyous in equal measure, this book is precious find, the kind you can't keep on your own shelves because you keep giving it away.
When it comes to difficult choices there's the right thing or the easy thing. These moments of decision that take a person's measure make for compelling fiction. One such is this small novella-without a single wasted word it is so perfectly written it could function as master class on character building and plotting. Would make a great gift for writer friends!
This illness memoir recounts the author's years living with Bell's Palsy and her struggles navigating the world as a wife, mother, and artist with one side of her face paralyzed. By turns funny, grave and uplifting, Smile offers comfort to fellow chronic condition sufferers and delight in life for everyone.
Lily King delivers absorbing novels written with precision and, as she happily proves with this collection, she can do the same in a shorter format. These stories are both incredible and everyday, frequently they gain their power from the friction when both rub againest the other. I feel somewhere along the line she took to heart Marianne Moore's line, "imaginary gardens with real toads in them", because no matter how fantastical the story, her characters speak and act with complete authenticity. This collection also showcases a fascination with darkness and the macabre absent from earlier works that I, for one, welcome.
Animal lovers know well sometimes bad babies are the best babies, especially when it comes to storytelling, and that the saying 'Who rescued who?' in regards to adopting animals is absolutely true. Always the Southern raconteur, Bragg makes poetry out of the ordinary-trucks, mommas, brothers, food- this time with the bittersweet knob turned all the way up. If there is a better writer at unearned grace I don't know them. A good one to read on your own front porch.
Written with a precise clarity, this British novel from 1931 tells the story of a working class British family's seaside vacation. Though the plot seems low stakes by 21st century standards, its tender attention to the ups and downs of everyday life makes it that rare unicorn of reads- a well written feel good book.
As a longtime true crime reader I welcome the new trend of victim forward stories-too often in the past these stories have been lurid, making superstars of the worst of us. The Comfort of Monsters is one of these victim centered books, examining the fallout on families left behind. This dark, realistic read is set in Milwaukee in 1991, 'the Dahmer Summer', and Peg's sister Dee has gone missing. With no leads and no body, the hapless police, overwhelmed by media attention, are no help so she sets out to find Dee herself. In a different kind of book she'd solve the mystery and find peace but Richards instead focuses on the Peg's guilt and the family's disintegration after years of not knowing.
A dark tale about a ballet, female desire and ambition braided with a family story that reads like a modern day V. C. Andrews, The Turnaout is Megan Abbott at the top of her game.
Set in Martha's Vineyard the summer that the Hollywood people came to town to make that shark movie, this warmhearted graphic novel is about friendship, forgiveness and what it means to be a team. Young readers will appreciate the sharply drawn characters and their struggles for acceptance and true blue "Jaws" fans (like myself) will delight in all the tribute Easter eggs placed by a fan as big as themselves. A real charmer!
Maggie Smith's poetry is approachable and warmhearted, which makes her an ideal choice for readers who feel intimidated or like they just don't 'get' poetry. She uses concrete everyday objects - goldenrod, dinosaur pajamas - to examine larger concerns about family, solitude and the deteriorating state of the natural world. Bonus: this wise and knowing collection is handsomely packaged, ideal for gift giving!
In this memoir Dara McAnulty, a teenage writer and climate change activist, examines one year outside in his small village in Ireland and in doing so illuminates the greater enviromental challenges facing the planet today. Readers who enjoyed viewing the natural world through an indigenous lens in Braiding Sweetgrass will especially enjoy seeing it through an autistic one. Young articulate and committed citizens like Dara give one hope it's not too late.
This debut novel is gripping generational family saga where, by clever narrative trick, the story takes place both in one day and over fifty years. It reads like a new prestige TV show everyone is talking about about, (the author WAS a the head of drama series at HBO) so clear your schedule because you won't want to put it down.
I feel like I say it every time but Laura Lippman just keeps getting better with each book. Though she could have rested on her laurels many times over, she continues to challenge herself and the reader with unexplored corners of her literary Baltimore. In her latest, more horror than mystery, an author way past his artistic zenith is recuperating from an accident when he is contacted by a mysterious woman who claims to be the protaganist of his greatest novel. A person who doesn't exist. Is it the pain meds, madness or the dementia that runs in his family? Biting, absorbing and ruthlessly smart , Dream Girl promises to be the 'of the moment' thrill ride of 2021.
This great sweeping epic with richly drawn characters tells two stories-one of a 20th century aviatrix seeking to fly around the world and a 21st century Hollywood actress attempting to salvage her self sabotaged career by playing the flier in a movie. How these two stories amplify and mirror one another while examining women's choices and the joy/difficulty of shaping one's life narrative is the great joy of this book. Take it on a journey of your own today!
This thought provoking essay collection, edited by the daughter of the original American publisher, tackles Nabakov's masterpiece from all angles. Could it be published today? What does it mean in the #metoo era? How has it been absorbed into the culture? Heavy hitters like Roxane Gay, Ian Frazier, Sloane Crosley and Laura Lippman will challenge and change the way you see this classic.
Vlautin's new novel is an of the moment story of gentrification in Portland that shows how economic desperation puts the squeeze on everyday working people. But unlike his other novels, which also highlight the struggles of similiar folk, this one is paced like a thriller (albeit with kitchen table stakes) unfolding over a breathless 48 hours with nailbiting suspense and no good choices. A must read for anyone who has ever had to sweat the rent.
For her third novel Berry pivots impressively from damp British horror to a gripping story of "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland. Tessa is a new mom and a producer for the BBC who is reviewing security tape from an IRA raid when she sees her sister, Marian. Does she have a spy in the family? What she discovers when her life is irrevocably changed make for a heartfelt and personal espionage story.
Jayne fled from Texas to NYC with her overachiever big sis June, then their relationship fell apart. Now, drifting through a quarterlife crisis filled with bulimia and bad behavior, she gets the news that June is sick. Full of wry humor, romance and drama this novel excels at family-how complicated, infuriating and absolutely necessary it is.
After losing her publishing job after an ill advised workplace romance, Florence is at loose ends, trying but never quite actually writing her novel, until she lands an assistant gig to the mysterious reclusive writer, Maud Dixon. At first symbiotic, their relationship takes a turn for the worse on a research trip to Morocco when Florence wakes up in the hospital after an accident she can't quite remember. Meticulously plotted, this Ripley for the 21st century will delight mystery readers who relish a deft plot twist.
When Louise's beloved dog dies she takes her grief to a nearby island where she meets a mysterious bear who helps her navigate her sadness. Lovely and perceptive, this picture books reassures readers of any age that bereavement is not linear and while the changes it brings are strange they are not unnavigable.
This new massive, but surprisingly quick reading, biography stands out from the plethora of Plath books in two important ways-it uses previously unavailible materials (especially medical documents) and it seeks to put the emphasis squarely on the work, not the personality cult built around the poet in the years since her suicide. This approach is refreshing and eyeopening whether the reader is new to Plath, or a huge fan.
Willy Vlautin is the perfect author for 2020. Unsparing and unsentimental, he writes about the unlucky poor, the forgotten and the marginalized, bestowing earned grace on lives not usually portrayed on bestseller lists. The Free, which tells the story of the desparate intersecting lives at a veteran's group home, is now available in an exclusive small format Olive Edition.
If you are looking for a well written read that's sure to delight you can do no better than Christine Coulson's debut novel, which takes the reader behind the scenes at New York's Met Museum, ground the author knows well from her 25 years of service there. Told in bite sized vignettes that range from randy to poignant, everyone from the museum director to the man who minds the bags in the gift shop (even the art itself) all are brought vividly to life. Do your anxious pysche a favor and read this book!
Large and intimidating? Yes. Absolutely necessary for understanding how we got here? Also yes. Besides highlighting educational gaps, of which the average reader will likely find many, Dr. Kendi's book provides a clear throughline through American history that clarifies the rotten systemic whole. Grab a highlighter and prepare to have your mind blown.
The Vanishing Half tells the story of two African American twins and how, when they flee their small Louisiana town as teens, one passes as white. How her choice echoes and haunts the family for generations allows Bennett to probe racism from fresh perspectives. Thought provoking and masterfully written, this one deserves every bit of praise it's receiving and then some.
You survived a cult-great job! Now what? You have no life skills for the 'real world'. (Your herbal medicine skills and the other end of world prep only gets you so far when the Armageddon you readied for has yet to materialize). You also have no belief system to replace the old, which leaves you susceptibile to dark overtures from the other surviving cultists who are coping even worse than you. A pitch black "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"-that's the juicy premise of The Poison Garden. Gripping and full of rich psychological detail!
Plucky Emmeline Lake just wants to do her part for the war effort. When she lands a job at the London Evening Chronicle she pictures herself as FEMALE WAR CORROSPONDENT. Alas, the job is actually assisting the formidible Henrietta Bird, the maddening advice columnist who refuses to actually offer any. So softhearted Emmy decides to answer a few letters on the sly because what could go wrong? How she copes with real life in wartorn London with her vibrant spirit intact makes for a delicious and uplifting treat for readers.
It seems impolite to laugh at a character who is lost, unsure and not finding anything on their journey to find themself but when they are as smart and sardonic as Ava, the heroine (?) of this debut you can't not laugh. Billed as the new Sallt Rooney, Nolan does have the ear for language but with more tenderness and humor. One to watch!
As a reader I admire writers who cast a wide story net, full of disparate threads that don’t seem to have anything in common, then pull it all tightly together. Emily St John Mandel excels at that in her latest, non dystopian, novel. The Glass Hotel is a story of ghosts, Ponzi schemes and feeling lost in your own life but more important than any mere plot description is the feeling this novel rises in the reader, feelings that aren’t easy to shake even when the last page is turned.
Filled with creeping dread and contagion, this historical novel tells the story of an out of favor Transcendentalist and his daughter who start a school for girls in 1871. When things start to go terribly wrong in ways that challenge their beliefs and bond the results make this imaginary history seems all too timely.